How 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:
"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 www.outlook.com 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:
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 18.104.22.168, 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 Gmail.com/GoogleTalk)
- 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- If the same gmail user logs into www.gmail.com they can still IM XMPP/Jabber contacts (Google notes that talk will be superceded by Hangouts eventually)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 Outlook.com’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 Gmail.com 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…
Microsoft Outlook.com Support Google Talk
If you are interested in IM/P interoperability between vendors you may have interest in this blog