MSN Messenger has teamed up with Pandora to bring Internet Radio one step closer to the masses. Launch MSN Messenger and open the “MSN Radio” tab, from there you can provide the email address that you registered with Pandora (or create a new account — it’s free!) and you have access to all your stations.
Unfortunately, that’s where the coolness stops.
Sure, this puts your Pandora stations one-step closer, and yes, more people will be exposed to the Pandora service. But, Pandora still opens in a full browser-window (which is susceptible to inadvertent closures and/or other programs hijacking). MSN should have taken the opportunity to play the Pandora content through the Messenger Window. This brings up the issue of what makes Pandora free (the advertising). To solve this issue, MSN could have opted to:
- Show the “advertising makes it free” branding inside the Messenger window,
- Fade in/fade out an unobtrusive advertising “bubble” a user-selected corner of the screen,
- If the user opts NOT to see any advertising instead a 15 second “commercial message” is played every few songs.
Of course, as with “regular” Pandora, if a user has paid the optional “commercial-free subscription” they don’t hear or see any advertising.
Additionally, in my tests, MSN Messenger doesn’t know what Pandora is playing, and thereby doesn’t display that in your status. Also, you cannot navigate your current playlist (thumbs up, thumbs down, skip, pause, etc.) via the MSN Radio tab (or by right-clicking the MSN Messenger icon).
Unfortunately, they missed the boat. Hopefully we’ll see an integrated version of Pandora and MSN Messenger soon, one with in-Messenger advertisements (as much as we all hate advertising), in-Messenger song ranking, and “what I’m listening to” integration. In the meantime, I’ll stick with OpenPandora (which does have a right-click status bar menu, doesn’t require a dedicated web browser window/tab, and does integrate “what I’m listening to” data with MSN Messenger).
(Hat tip to Mike Dopp for pointing out both the MSN Radio tab in MSN Messenger and the OpenPandora project!)