Google will officially be shutting down Google Talk, also known as GTalk or GChat, for good, effectively forcing users to switch over to the newer Hangouts app if they want to continue Google's messaging service.

Earlier reports say Google plans to discontinue GTalk on Monday, Feb. 16, but a Google+ post by Google product manager for Google Voice and Hangouts Mayur Kamat says GTalk will be "deprecated" on Feb. 23.

"This will allow us to focus on bringing you the most robust and expressive communications experience with Google Hangouts," Kamat said.

Google has not been secretive about its plans to end support for GTalk. In May 2013, the Internet company replaced GTalk with Hangouts as the official messaging app on Android. This was followed by an announcement made in October that it will stop offering the GTalk Windows app. On Monday, many users found they could no longer download GTalk but were instead directed to the Hangouts page.

Hangouts, says Kamat, is used by millions of people from around the world. It allows users to communicate with others via SMS, chat, group video chats, and phone calls, and offers features such as contact lists, status messages, emoji, and the ability to sync conversations across Android devices.

While Google is pushing Hangouts as the messaging app of choice, many users prefer the much older GTalk for the ability to communicate with their contacts right from their desktop. Some people also find the file transfer feature on GTalk convenient.

Hangouts, on the other hand, can be used on a Windows or Mac computer, but users can only do so by opening a web browser and using Hangouts integrated into Gmail or the Hangouts app for Google's Chrome browser, which can be annoying if people do not want to fire up a web browser just to chat.

Google is also ending support for third-party clients that are integrated with GTalk, including the instant messaging apps Pidgin, Adium, and Trillian because Hangouts does not have support for the open systems XML-based Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).

However, users who are unable to give up GTalk can use third-party Windows apps, such as the open-source Miranda IM, Jitsi, and Psi, to continue using GTalk.

"Please keep in mind these aren't Google products, so exercise caution when signing in with your Google account," Kamat said.

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