Pandora lands on Windows Phone 8 with unlimited, ad-free listening throughout 2013

For Windows Phone 8 users, the wait for an official Pandora app is finally over. The streaming music service released a free Windows Phone 8 app today—and it includes several goodies you won't find in the Pandora apps available for other platforms.

Windows Phone-exclusive features for Pandora include the ability to pin favorite stations to the Start screen and to see what song is playing in a Live Tile. The app can also filter out explicit content when launched through Kid's Corner, a separate Start screen that locks down certain parts of the phone.

To top it all off, Pandora for Windows Phone 8 will have no ads and no listening limits through the end of the year. (On iOS and Android, streaming is capped at 40 free hours per month, and users must pay $1 to keep listening after that.)

Now for the bad news: Pandora's app only works with Windows Phone 8 handsets, and because older Windows Phones won't be getting the upgrade, they'll be left out indefinitely. In their respective blog posts, Pandora and Microsoft say nothing about a potential version for Windows Phone 7.8 or earlier.

Pandora is one of 14 apps that Microsoft had specifically promised when it showed off Windows Phone 8 last October. Four of those apps—Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride, LivingSocial and Fairway Solitaire—have yet to launch, despite Microsoft's claim that they'd be out by the holidays.

Microsoft is trying to give its Windows and Windows Phone app stores a boost by paying developers a measly $100 per app in a temporary promotion, but the company has said that payoffs aren't its only strategy. To fare better against iOS and Android, Microsoft needs to woo major app developers and fill in the gaps in quality, not just quantity. It took a couple years, but the launch of Pandora covers one of Windows Phone's most noticeable holes. Spotify also released a Windows Phone 8 app back in February.

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