Thank you, Google, for the new homework assignment: Hangouts vs. Chat

Google today broke Google Chat by forcing Hangouts on all of us. David Gewirtz gets all cranky about the change. It's not pretty.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

I really dislike software updates. It didn't used to be that way. It used to be that I looked forward to the new features, new capabilities, new toys.

But that was before I had a life and responsibilities. Now I have both, and I find myself to be somewhat more change averse.

Today, a day I had a lot of other more important things to do, Google decided to break one of my most-relied-upon resources: Google Chat.

Let me be clear: I use Google Chat for work. I talk to many of my colleagues about work-related activities, about ZDNet editorial, and about projects I'm working on.

I don't hang out.

I don't use Google Chat to make new friends or to share small details about the danish I had for breakfast or hear about new TV shows. I use it to coordinate meeting schedules, deliverables, titles, abstracts, article drop times, and the like.

My Google Chat list is carefully curated. There are about 30 people on it, all of whom have something to do with work. Robert Scoble, as much as I like Robert, has never been on my Google Chat list, because I don't work with him.

Today, all of that changed. My Chat list is gone. In fact, my nice little Google Chrome extension for Chat is gone, as well. Poof. Stolen, like the time stolen from me today trying to recover my work messaging system.

My Google Chat list is carefully curated. There are about 30 people on it, all of whom have something to do with work.

In its place is Hangouts (and Robert Scoble is on the list). I had a British professor who used to titter every time someone mentioned hanging out, because to him, hanging out meant, well, something very inadvisable in public.

I don't want to hang out (either using my professor's definition or the more mundane one) with my work associates. I want to send a quick chat and get back to work. So do they.

This morning, however, I have to figure out what happened to my list of work associates, figure out how to get Chat back, figure out how to stop everyone in my Google Plus (which today is such a minus!) from hanging out on my desktop, and then wonder if every other work associate I've got has the same issue, and whether all of our productivity for the next week has just gone down the chute.

So, thanks Google. Thank you so plus'n much.

Editorial standards