Yesterday, Google announced plans to completely shut down the Google Talk service after June 26, 2017.
Google Talk, often referred to by its unofficial names of Gchat, Gtalk, or Gmail Chat, was launched in 2005, one year after Google launched Gmail, and was available as a desktop client and mobile app, but also as a web-based service embedded in the Gmail inbox.
In February 2015, Google shut down most of the desktop and mobile clients and recommended users to move to its newer Google Hangouts service.
In spite of the announcement, Google left Talk server running, and many users just switched to XMPP clients like Adium, Gajim, or Pidgin to talk to their friends.
Now, Google will bring the final ax over Google Talk's head on June 26. The search giant details its plans as follows:
⇒ Talk users within Gmail will receive a prompt in the next few weeks, inviting them to switch to Hangouts. After June 26, users will be automatically transitioned to Hangouts, unless contractual commitments apply. For users that preferred the Google Talk look, there is a Dense Roster setting in Hangouts that provides a similar experience.
⇒ Third-party XMPP clients will continue to work with Hangouts for 1-on-1 chats. XMPP federation with third-party services providers will no longer be supported starting June 26.
⇒ The legacy Google Talk Android app was replaced in the Play Store in 2013 and will now stop functioning. Android users are encouraged to install Hangouts now.
⇒ For G Suite administrators: If your domain is affected by this change, you will have already received an email notification about this change.
When it launched Google Talk, Google's main goal was interoperability with all other IM clients. The company, leveraging the XMPP protocol, wanted to make it possible that every user on the Internet talk with his friends, regardless of his IM provider.
Google never achieved these goals, mainly because most other companies didn't play fair, as Larry Page, Google SEO, explained at the Google I/O conference in 2013, when Google decided to remove any other interoperability features from Google Talk themselves.
Google Talk's death, or should we say sabotage from other vendors, also triggered a shift in how Google viewed IM clients. After the Google Talk interoperability debacle, the company abandoned its open protocol policy and created Google+ Hangouts around a closed-source, proprietary protocol.
Google Allo and Google Duo, two other IM apps Google built in the following years, also followed this closed-source model.
In a way, even if Google is now axing the service, you can blame companies like Microsoft and AOL for indirectly killing what could have been a unified IM scene. Sadly we now have more IM apps than we can remember, and getting in touch with friends is harder than ever before. Want a 100% inaccurate list of all of today's non-compatible IM clients? Here it is: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal, Yahoo Messenger, Viber, Telegram, WeChat, Hangouts, Duo, Allo, Skype, iMessage, QQ, ICQ, Paltalk, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the list can still go on.