Hangouts Won’t Hangout With Other Messaging Vendors: Google’s New Unified Messaging Drops Open XMPP/Jabber Interop


imageHow can a company in the same day chastise other vendors for not being open and drop the open and interoperable portion of their own unified messaging solution? On May 15, 2013 Google seems to have done just that.

Just yesterday at Google I/O Larry Page decried a sad lack of IM & presence interoperability between vendors:

image"I've personally been quite sad at the industry's behavior around all these things. If you take something as simple as IM, we've had an open offer to interoperate forever. Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us but not doing the reverse. Which is really sad and not the way to make progress. You can't have people milking off of just one company for their own benefit…" (see video here)

But just days after Microsoft announces that will integrate to Google’s IM/P solution via Google Talk’s XMPP protocol, Google notes that its new effort at a unified messaging solution (Hangouts which will replace existing Google Talk) will effectively cut off interoperability via XMPP. Google’s manager of real-time communication products, Nikhyl Singhal notes:

image“With Hangouts, Singhal says Google had to make the difficult decision to drop the very "open" XMPP standard that it helped pioneer…”

Google Developers Talk page has also clearly noted that XMPP is not supported in Hangouts:

Note: We announced a new communications product, Hangouts, in May 2013. Hangouts will replace Google Talk and does not support XMPP. [show below]


What does this mean technically for XMPP to Google Federation today?

What does this mean technically today? User colaflash notes that the experience with the new Hangsouts-App (version, released today, 15th May 2013) is as noted below:

  • XMPP/Jabber contacts that you have saved in GoogleTalk will not show up in Hangouts app
  • Adding new XMPP/Jabber contacts in new Hangouts app will add them as email only contacts
  • XMPP/Jabber contacts can not send IM to Hangouts user (it fails to deliver with error)
  • Gmail account will appear online to XMPP/Jabber contacts when Hangout app is logged in (presumably through/via
  • from Hangout App you cannot see others presence. Google Talk users will just see online when Hangout App is logged in.
  • If the same gmail user logs into they can still IM XMPP/Jabber contacts (Google notes that talk will be superceded by Hangouts eventually)
How Many XMPP Federated Enterprise Organizations Will This Affect?

Earlier this year I did some research on how many Fortune 500 and 1000 companies have apparent public facing XMPP federation enabled and the numbers came in at around 10-15%. This means that between 10-15% of the top organizations could be affected by Google’s decision to drop XMPP. Read more here.

Questions About Clients: 3rd Party Clients, Google Talk and Hangouts

Q. Will my 3rd party Google Talk client still work?
A. At this time Google has not yet announced the end of life/retirement for Google Talk. As long as Google Talk is available 3rd party client apps as well as’s new Google connection could be expected to continue to work.

Q. Has Hangouts really removed contact presence?
A. Yes, below is the old Google Talk Android client (left) compared Hangouts app on the right. Two things that are missing in the new Hangouts App: Ability to see other users’ presence and the ability to set your own presence. Those using Talk app or will see a Hangouts user as Available if they are logged into the app.


Q. Its quite inconvenient to not have presence and loose Jabber contacts, what can I do?
A. If you uninstall the Android Hangouts App you will be able to use Google Talk app again.

[Note: the above are observations and we do not have input from Google]


Google Hangouts unplugging support for XMPP has deep ramifications in the industry: This means that interoperability between Google and Microsoft Lync, XMPP/Jabber based solutions like Cisco Jabber, Openfire, Avaya and many others will also loose interoperability. Will this also put Microsoft Lync in the interesting position of being the the most widely interoperable enterprise UC solution? [complete article on this subject] Will Google Apps now be the “closed solution” in comparison to Microsoft’s “very open” UC solution?

In conclusion, perhaps the code name “babel”, used internally by Google to describe their unified messaging effort, was indeed an allusion to the Biblical story of the tower of Babel? In that story humans spoke a single language until suddenly multiple languages emerged, making communication between people and groups impossible…

Read more:

Microsoft Support Google Talk

If you are interested in IM/P interoperability between vendors you may have interest in this blog


  1. Big FAIL on Google. They screwed it!

  2. Damn it, Larry, drop the double-speak. Bashing competitors for not being open enough and then doing exactly what they do - dropping the federation. The federation was the only thing that kept me on google talk. If I'd want a closed up service, that would allow me to use my favourite XMPP client I'd stick with FB chat, everyone is there anyways.
    I'll go weep for a little while.

  3. On the bright side - it's good that Skype is in Microsoft hands.

    1. Skype is already closed. That's what Larry Page alluded to. Microsoft took advantage of Gtalk federation, and integrated it in Outlook, but Google can't do the same with Skype. So they stopped keeping Gtalk open, too.

    2. Yeah, Skype is great and clicks URLs for you...

  4. This covers federation, but what about XMPP clients?

    1. will add a section on that but here is the short: for now, 3rd party apps that login to google talk via google talk api will continue to work. But eventually google talk is set to be retired and superceded by hangouts.

      If any one has heard of the retire/eof date for google talk i would be glad to hear it. thanks.

  5. As a Pidgin user, I will safely say that XMPP as a client protocol seems to be working just fine. Conversations between Google users show up both in Pidgin's XMPP system as well as in Google Hangouts. External XMPP (open federation) users appear to be reachable via Pidgin as well.

    I suppose the only thing that can be said is "oh well"?

    1. Fine FOR NOW. Until they kill XMPP support altogether - it's currently a transitionary phase. Google are really starting to work on my nerves

  6. I had to work around this a while ago, I use xmpp to talk
    to me about my home server that broke. those who need a workaround can use freetalk which is scriptable. I replaced
    my xmpp client with only a few lines of freetalk script.

  7. Everyone is misunderstanding the tone of what Larry Page was saying. He said he was sad that industry was not working towards interoperating with each other and that Google has been open since "forever". Now the tone of what he was saying could be taken as "we have done this forever, no one else is doing it with us, so we're just going to stop wasting our time."

    Larry Page spoke about what Google has done in the past, not what it's doing going forward.

    1. Even if that's true it's sad that they're giving up.

  8. Way to go.. bash the big companies with their closed apps then follow them. Time to find a new Instant Messaging provider to recommend to friends and get them to start switching.

  9. And Microsoft isn't even ashamed of them being so selfish !

  10. I find this article annoying, written just like a Microsoft PR. Matt, I like it when you write like a journalist, but this "Hail Microsoft" all the time sounds irritating, both from Microsoft and the whiners.

    Life isn't fair, live with it. Everyone has options and they will switch if they need to. As an individual user, I don't give a damn about Skype or or Lync, because I have my friends on GoogleTalk or Facebook and that is how many others and I will continue to communicate. It isn't always about interoperability that you and MS are constantly trying to feed everyone.

    1. appreciate the critique, sorry to be annoying! But it seems google may have "annoyed" many XMPP proponents as well. :-)

      Lately I feel somewhat like an XMPP advocate. (XMPP PR? :-)

      2013 XMPP Server Research (14% of orgs have it):

      Reporting on XMPP Invites Being Blocked by Google:

      Lync Server 2013 native support of XMPP and different XMPP servers Lync now supports:

      And of course this article.

  11. Quid pro quo. How about Microsoft opening ActiveSync?

  12. Did it just happen that GTalk stopped supporting XMPP today?
    Starting today, in GTalk I cannot chat anymore with XMPP contacts. Only with other GTalk users.

  13. For me left to work some weeks ago.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.