Google has been planning to end-of-life Classic Hangouts for Workspace users since 2018, but the mandatory switch to Google Chat is finally set to happen on March 22.
It’s the last step in a five-phase plan to migrate everyone from Classic Hangouts to Google Chat. In a blog post, Google confirmed that on March 22, “we’ll turn on the ‘Chat preferred’ setting for any customers who haven’t already done so, making Google Chat the default chat application.”
For anyone who’d prefer to keep using Hangouts at work, unfortunately Google says, “It is not possible to opt out of this change.” Almost nothing is going to be lost during the transition, though, as conversation history will be available in Google Chat “except for a few special cases.”
The change impacts all Google Workspace admins and end users, although end users don’t have to do anything as the switch will happen automatically. Admins will also see the switch happen automatically, but can pre-empt the change by upgrading all users to “Chat preferred” before March 22.
Google says the hangouts.google.com domain will continue to work, but it will load Chat instead of Hangouts after the switch. It’s possible to export Hangouts and Chat data if an organization decides they want to look for an alternative messaging solution. And as for personal Google Accounts, 9to5Google points out that the same switch to Chat is going to happen, but the Workspace transition will be completed before Google tackles that user base.