Hangouts now work without Google+ account, Apps users get 15-person video chat

Google (S GOOG) really wants businesses to use its Hangouts video chat, and new changes make it easier for companies to actually do so: Hangouts can now be accessed with any Google account, even if the user doesn’t have a Google+ profile, and Google Apps customers can now chat with up to 14 other people in HD.

Moving away from requiring Google+ profiles for Hangouts will undoubtedly spur further speculations about the future of Google’s social network, but the move also addresses a real problem: Many Google users only have a Google+ profile for their personal account, but not for their work email — or if they have both, they’re likely just going to use one of them. Tying Hangouts to Google+ profiles not only complicated Hangouts usage, but actually also Google+ itself.

The 15-person upgrade could further help companies that have slightly bigger teams to give Hangouts a try, as are upgrades to Google’s Chromebox for meetings product: The Hangouts video conferencing solution in a box, which was first introduced in February, is getting dual-display and remote admin support, and integrations of H.323 or SIP-based videoconferencing systems should make it easier to add legacy teleconferencing hardware to the mix as well.

The full details of the announcement, which also includes additional markets for the Chromebox for meetings hardware, can be found on Google’s Enterprise blog. Which goes to show: Google is taking video conferencing seriously, and it really would like companies to take Hangouts seriously as well.