Google Hangouts woos businesses by ditching the need for a Google+ account

Google announced Wednesday that a Google+ account is no longer necessary for business clients wishing to use the Google Hangouts videoconferencing feature. 

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/File
A man walks past a Google sign at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

"Hanging out" on Google will now be as easy as sending e-mails and sharing documents – while you're in the office, that is. 

In a move to give businesses the chance for more face time in their meetings, a Google+ profile will no longer be required to use Hangouts, Google's video-messaging service. This is in addition to a series of other apps Google announced that are geared toward business clients.

Starting Wednesday, Hangouts will be treated the same as any other Google app such as Gmail and Google Drive for business users. Regular users will still need a Google+ account for the time being.

Covering Hangouts under the same terms of service as other Google Apps for Business products means round-the-clock phone support and a 99.9 percent uptime. 

In a blog post, Clay Bavor, vice president of product management for Google Apps also said that reforms would soon be coming to Google Apps Vault, a feature that lets organizations maintain and store e-mails and chat data. 

In addition, Google says partnerships with existing videoconferencing services will provide further improvements to Hangouts. Blue Jeans lets people sync more traditional videoconferencing systems to Hangout and InterCall lets people use their phones to join videoconference meetings.

Users with a Chromebox, the desktop computer running Google's Chrome OS operating system, will be able to initiate videoconference calls with phone users. Other updates to Chromebox include the ability to connect "two displays to one Chromebox ... to see your audience and project a presentation at the same time." 

As Thomas Claburn writes in Information Week, this type of targeting of Google apps directly to business clients is "perhaps inevitable given that the company's biggest rival for business customers, Microsoft, made its fortune selling software by the suite, specifically Microsoft Office." 

He adds: "Adding Hangouts to Google Apps for Business isn't merely an exercise in bundling. It's an effort to convince business customers that the video conferencing platform can support the weight of an enterprise." 

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