Unfortunately, Hangouts IS still integrated with Google Plus, which I tried to learn to love and then accepted that I couldn't.
Integration with Google Plus means that everything you do is saved automatically there. You could create a fake profile, but that's just more passwords to try to remember... too complicated and just unnecessary.
There might well be changes afoot, and at least one startup is already exploiting this complicating annoyance with Google Plus/Hangouts, by offering conference by way of a simple, no-nonsense link.
In the meantime, if you don't want to join Google Plus but do want to use Hangouts, the only way at the moment seems to be from inside your Gmail account.
Peggy K has a good angle on the rather unnecessary Google Plus-Hangouts nexus when she says: "I don't
know why it's required, other than that it is." Google as nature, or Google as God, certainly Google as not giving control to users/persons.
Google Plus is not the same as a Google Account. You have to explicitly activate Google Plus - however, Google wants you to activate it, with required profile and all, to use Youtube and, under discussion here, Hangouts.
Here's the main link for 'Hangouts' but if you try to 'Start a Hangout On Air' you will be taken to the Google Plus sign-in page: https://plus.google.com/hangouts
However, if you are signed in to Google Plus, then the process is very easy indeed and the links for 'Hangouts On Air' and 'Video Hangouts' at the top of the page are also very convenient and very easy - try having a look at some of the 'Hangouts On Air' to see what's possible.
10 people can hangout at the same time on a regular account and 15 on a paid business account.
Numbers for your Hangouts on Air are unlimited both live and after the event which is captured on Youtube. Hangouts is a simply fantastic space for communication, collaboration, learning. Just - please - disconnect it from Google Plus!