It's about time: MySpace's formerly desktop-only instant-messaging client, MySpaceIM, is going in-browser. The company is beta-testing it with Canadian users but plans to roll it out to other English-speaking countries (including the U.S.) over the next few weeks and then to other regions in the following months.
The new MySpaceIM, anchored at the bottom of the browser window in its own toolbar, takes a format quite similar to Facebook Chat. It can also pop out into its own browser window. You can, in addition, IM with MySpace users who aren't on your friends list, something that I don't quite understand the benefits of, or you can toggle the privacy settings to always be "invisible" or to only accept IMs from people you've already approved as friends.
The News Corp.-owned MySpace isn't ditching its downloadableIM client, though. The two are interoperable, the company said.
My experience has been that many Facebook users have simply turned off Facebook Chat. But with a younger, more entertainment-focused feel, MySpace may have better luck with in-browser IM. And it's a strategic tactic, too: Having lost the membership-count battle to Facebook months ago, MySpace is trying to increase its edge in user engagement.
To that end, it started letting its members edit photos on the site last week.