Will Google keep its promise and give xmpp users a way out?
As you may have seen, Google announced at their Google I/O conference that they were discontinuing their XMPP service, Google Talk. It’s very unfortunate, because XMPP is the most deployed open standard for instant messaging. It gave Google users the ability to communicate instantly with anyone using an XMPP federated service (like FSFE’s fellows XMPP server). Even Microsoft recently enabled its users to communicate to the outside world through XMPP. Now, Google is “replacing” Google Talk with Google+ Hangouts which will no longer support XMPP¹:
Note: We announced a new communications product, Hangouts, in May 2013. Hangouts will replace Google Talk and does not support XMPP.
What we know is that Google stops XMPP federation. Soon, Google users won’t be able to chat with anybody but other Google users. If I were paranoid, I’d say this makes their recent move on Google Talk look suspicious. But enough whining. What can we do about this? Well, there might be a way out for those of you who were using Google Talk as their XMPP service and who had a lot of non-Google contacts. Did you read Google’s Terms of Service? I bet you didn’t ;-). No worries, we sum it up for you at Terms of Service; Didn’t Read. So, you might have noticed this interesting bit:
Google enables you to get your information out when a service is discontinued Discussion Google gives you reasonable advance notice when a service is discontinued and “a chance to get information out of that Service.”
The full terms state:
We believe that you own your data and preserving your access to such data is important. If we discontinue a Service, where reasonably possible, we will give you reasonable advance notice and a chance to get information out of that Service.
So far, the only notice I have seen is on a developer page so I don’t think that counts for a “reasonable advance notice”; we yet have to wait for this when Google announces to their users that they discontinue Google Talk. Or maybe Google’s going to argue that they don’t “discontinue” a Service because Talk is replaced by Hangouts (which does not support XMPP and which isn’t federated). I’d argue it’s not true and that XMPP chat is discontinued. Hence Google should give users a way out. Let’s hope that those who have decided to pay allegiance to Google will be able to get their chat contact list out of Google Talk, with a way to import them into XMPP providers which are federated.
- it remains unclear whether XMPP support is entirely gone for xmpp-client-to-server according to Ars↩