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If you love hanging out on the traditional Google Hangouts environment, then you're in for some good news this week. Earlier in 2019, the Google G-Suite and cloud teams announced that they would be starting to transition all G-Suite Hangouts users to new versions of the app. The original plan was to move all Hangouts users to Chat and Meet (the latest versions of Hangouts) by the end of October this year (2019). After that, Google was going to retire the old version of Hangouts and get rid of it completely.
However, many businesses don't feel comfortable with change - as you'll probably know as a business leader yourself. Admins got back to Google about the impending shut-down date and claimed that they didn't want to lose access to the classic version of Hangouts so quickly. To keep their clients happy, Google has decided to push the retirement date of the classic app back a little further. This means that you won't have to give up using traditional Hangouts until at least June 2020.
The fact that Google has said that the retirement date will be "no sooner" than June 2020 also means that it could end up being later too. Google's team has announced that it will provide a more definite date at a later time - probably after Google has had a chance to see how customers respond to this change of plans.
What Does the Timeline Change Mean to You?
The critical thing to note here is that the decision to change the timeline date is specifically connected to people who pay for their G-Suite experience. However, there's a good chance that the choice to hold onto classic Hangouts for longer on the business side of things will also make a difference to the consumer timeline too. At this point, we don't know for sure what is going to happen to Hangouts for consumers. Google has been very vague about its messaging strategy after "Allo" turned out to be such a disappointment.
What we do know about the Hangouts change so far, is that Google still plans on moving the customers of G-Suite for business over to their new pair of chat and messaging services. The new services include Hangouts Chat - the Slack competitor that allows teams to connect via instant messaging, and Hangouts Meet. Hangouts Meet is Google's approach to video conferencing for today's collaborative companies.
Although Hangouts Meet and Chat pretty much offer the same combined functionality as the classic Hangouts, people have gotten used to the traditional app. Google said that it heard from IT teams around the world that they wanted more time to migrate away from Hangouts before the system shut down entirely. Keen to keep customers happy, Google says that it's now planning to migrate all business G-Suite users over to the new services by the end of 2020.
Transitioning G-Suite Customers to a New Hangouts Experience
Google claims that it always takes the feedback it receives from its users into account when making changes to crucial parts of the G-Suite puzzle. That's certainly something that we've seen evidence of over the years, as Google has continued to roll out new features and solutions based on the functionality that its customers ask for.
Since people appear to be concerned about moving entire teams away from a classic Hangouts experience and into something new, Google has even announced that it's going to be working on adding additional features to the classic Hangouts environment. This should make the transition feel more natural when people switch over to Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat instead. Alternatively, it could just mean that G-Suite customers will want to stick with the Classic version for even longer.
So far, Google claims that no changes are going to be made to the consumer version of classic Hangouts. Additionally, the traditional version of Hangouts is going to continue receiving ongoing maintenance and new features to get people ready for their transition in 2020. However, given Google's history when it comes to instant messaging, there's always a chance that the decisions around Hangouts will change in the months to come.
If you've already started moving to Hangouts Chat and Meet, you'll be able to register your interest in an Accelerated Transition Program with Google to speed up the process.