Transition from classic Hangouts to Chat: Deployment guide

Are you ready to transition your users from classic Hangouts to Google Chat? Follow these steps to create a successful experience for your users.

Step 1. Develop a plan

The most successful migrations start with a clear plan. Define your plan using these recommended steps, in the order listed. To start, schedule a migration date. Depending on the size of your organization, we recommend scheduling at least several weeks in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to communicate the upcoming changes to your users. When choosing a date, be aware it can take up to 24 hours for all changes to propagate to all your users.

Step 2. Prepare your support team or help desk

Prepare your internal support team or help desk for the upcoming migration date. They need to be ready to handle a higher volume of support tickets. Creating a room in Chat dedicated to support-related questions can be helpful in the first few weeks.

Step 3. Review the list of known limitations

Before you migrate to Chat, make sure you and your internal support teams review and understand the full list of known limitations. The full list is exhaustive and many of the items may not apply to you. Notable limitations include:

  • Phone calls and text messages using Google Voice are not currently available in Chat. Users can get these features by using Google Voice at voice.google.com, from the App Launcher, or by downloading the Google Voice mobile app (Android, iOS).
  • Some direct message history from classic Hangouts will appear in Chat, but group messages from classic Hangouts (including their history) won't be migrated to Chat. Users can still view the chat history through Gmail. They can continue to participate in the classic Hangouts group conversations on the Web at hangouts.google.com, but not by visiting hangouts.google.com in mobile browsers.   
  • New group messages and rooms started in Chat won't send messages to users who are still on classic Hangouts, and the other way around. Learn more
  • G Suite organizations that haven't turned on Chat yet won't be reachable through Chat. Users can only message external users that have Chat turned on in their organization. For these external chats, users can still use hangouts.google.com. The classic Hangouts bot will notify users in Chat of any missed messages.
  • Chat rooms are limited to 8000 members.

Review the full list of known limitations.

Step 4. Turn on classic Hangouts and Chat

In the Admin console, check your organizational units to make sure both classic Hangouts and Chat are turned on. This step is important because it lets your users chat with the most external people and gives them new features, such as Chat in Gmail.

  • Users with Chat turned off—Can't use any Chat application, such as Chat in Gmail, mobile apps, or standalone app (PWA).
  • Users with classic Hangouts turned off—Have these limitations:
    • Can't use hangouts.google.com.
    • Won't have direct message interoperability with external users. For example, an external user in classic Hangouts can't message someone in Chat.
    • Classic bot won't work 

If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with Chat to learn how to best implement its features in your organization. Define admin settings, such as bot use.

Step 5. Test the migration experience

If you have a test domain, you can preview the migration experience in your test domain before the migration date. Using your test account, sign in to the Admin console. In Chat, turn on the Chat Preferred setting, as shown in Step 9.

Step 6. Communicate to your users

Communicate the upcoming transition to your users when you confirm your migration date. Clearly outline any actions users should take before the migration, such as steps 7 and 8. You might want to share these items:

Establish a Q&A forum for user questions before and after the migration. To discuss the upcoming change, some of our customers have found it helpful to create a room in Chat.

Remind users again as the migration date approaches. Frequent communication with users is important.

Step 7. Install Chat apps on all devices

To minimize the chance of missed notifications, before the migration date:

  • Mobile users should download the latest version of the Google Chat app from Google Play or the App store. After downloading the Chat app, users should sign in to their G Suite accounts so they’re ready to switch on the migration date. Chat requires Android 5.0 or later.
  • Chrome extension users should download and sign in to the new Chat standalone app. Alternatively, you can use Chrome policy settings to deploy the app to your users.

The classic Hangouts Chrome extension and mobile apps will be turned off on the scheduled migration date.

If applicable, install Chat on all devices using Google Mobile Management.

Step 8. Turn on video and voice services

  • Video calling—Users can join ad-hoc meetings in Chat via our integration with Google Meet. Users who want to join meetings from their phones need to download the Meet app to their mobile devices (Android, iOS) and sign in to their G Suite account. The Meet app is also useful for joining scheduled calendar meetings. Turn on Meet in the Admin console for users in your organization .
  • Voice calling—Phone calls and text messages using Google Voice are not currently available in Chat. Users can get these features by using Google Voice at voice.google.com, from the App Launcher, or by downloading the Google Voice app (Android, iOS) on their mobile phones. Turn on Google Voice in the Admin console for users in your organization.

Note: Chat doesn't integrate with Google Fi. Google Fi users who chose classic Hangouts as their default text messaging app can still send and receive text messages from the classic Hangouts app on their Google Fi mobile device.

Step 9. Select "Chat preferred" on migration day

After you do steps 1 through 8, you’re ready to transition your organization to Chat. In particular, make sure to do Step 4 before you do this step. On migration day:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using an account with super administrator privileges (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenG Suiteand thenHangouts Chat.
  3. Click Chat Clients.
    Note that this setting can be applied only at the top-level organizational unit. Everyone in your organization needs to migrate to Chat at the same time. 
  4. Select Chat Preferred.
  5. Click Save.

It can take up to 24 hours for the changes to take effect, including turning off classic Hangouts apps and turning on new features. For more information, go to Choose a chat service for your organization.

How do I undo the migration if I change my mind?

Note: Undoing the migration to Chat will likely be disruptive, so continue with caution after considering other options

To undo your organization's migration to Chat:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using an account with super administrator privileges (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenG Suiteand thenHangouts Chat.
  3. Click Chat Clients.
    Note that this setting can be applied only at the top-level organizational unit.
  4. Select Both classic Hangouts and Chat.
  5. Click Save.

If you change this setting multiple times within 24 hours, it can create an inconsistent user experience. Confirm the new setting applies to all users before you change the setting again.

Your users need to do the following to get the changes:

  • Gmail—Classic Hangouts replaces Google Chat in Gmail. Users will need to reload Gmail to get the change.
  • Android and iOS—Users need to sign in to their classic Hangouts mobile app using their G Suite account.
  • Extension—Users need to restart the classic Hangouts extension by going to chrome://extensions/ and turning the extension off and on.

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