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Migrating from classic Hangouts: Google Chat preferred available to G Suite customers

Starting today, G Suite administrators can migrate their users from classic Hangouts to "Chat preferred". Previously this option was only available to a small group of G Suite customers in the Chat Accelerated Transition Program.

Google Chat ( features include: 
  • Direct 1:1 messaging that is interoperable with classic Hangouts
  • Direct group messaging 
  • Rooms for "ongoing long-term chats"
  • Edit text in a conversation after it was sent
  • Google Drive file sharing, in addition to photo and video sharing
  • Bots to help you (or have some fun)
There is a handy Hangouts vs. Chat comparison page with more details.
This appears to be slightly ahead of schedule, as Phase 3 was originally in the "first half of 2020", and here we are still in the first half (even though 2020 has been a very long year so far). 

Eventually personal Google accounts will also be migrated from classic Hangouts to Google Chat, but Google has not announced a date that will happen.

Update October 15, 2020: Migration of personal accounts from Hangouts to Chat will be in the first half of 2021. Some Hangouts features are going away before then.

What happens during the migration from Hangouts to Chat 

During this transition period Google Chat takes precedence for communication, but classic Hangouts remains available. The following changes are for G Suite users after Chat preferred is enabled: 
Eventually classic Hangouts will be shut down, so these options will eventually no longer be available.

More information and help