It’s the same story…ATM meets operating system (OS). ATM and OS hit it off. Things are going great and then - Microsoft schedules the death of the OS. Lost and confused, ATM has to start the relationship all over again with a new, fancier OS simply waiting for the death knell to ring yet again.
Alright, that might be a bit dramatic. But it certainly FEELS that way, doesn’t it? All that cost and hard work to upgrade to a more secure system and then BAM! Microsoft announces an end date for support. Sure, the cut-off date is some two years out but we all know how fast that flies by when you have an entire ATM fleet upgrade to plan!
All kidding aside, Windows 7 extended support is officially scheduled to halt on January 14, 2020. Machines still running the Windows 7 platform will no receive security or software updates after this date. However, while the logical step would be for an industry upgrade to Windows 8, mirroring the transition in the consumer space, ATM developers and manufacturers are instead working to skip this transition – moving directly to the Windows 10 platform.
Why Windows 10?
As always, running an unsupported operating system is in no way advisable. The longer an ATM sits without updated security patches, the more vulnerable it becomes. Each day adds new malware, jackpotting, and other cyberattacks – gradually putting machines outside of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
Windows 10 is arguably the most advanced OS upgrade ATMs have faced in quite a while. And, with malware and other security threats growing in number, that kind of billing is of pretty hefty significance. Windows 10 comes packaged with built-in security for detection and prevention of emerging cybersecurity threats. It also touts updates that are intended to prolong the lifespan of the version by going beyond the standard background changes common in earlier renditions of Windows. It has also been hinted that the new OS could end up becoming the “final” upgrade as Microsoft makes moves to change over to a service-based platform.
Why not something else?
The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) has posted their position on ATM operating systems – citing Windows 10 as the current suggested standard while championing the possibility of “non-Microsoft alternatives such as Linux-based ATMs or Android-operated ATMs.” However, while there are a few proprietary OS in use along with a range of Microsoft products (Windows CE, Windows XP, and Windows 7), few have the range of development and options, software, and applications currently made available to the Windows 7 and Windows 10 platforms.
In fact, while major industry manufacturers may be investigating other OS, ATM giants have been anticipating and even developing for Windows 10 since well before end of life announcement for 7. Diebold Nixdorf, one of the oldest and largest ATM producers, has been shipping their machines with Windows 10 compatible processors since mid-2014. The company even hosted a webinar on the benefits of Windows 10 migration and what “wow-factors and features” the software would help push to the ATM.
If you haven’t already, it is time to start planning. While you may be tempted, it would be inadvisable to rely on your risk assessments from the Windows 7 upgrade. Thanks to EMV and continually innovative criminals, the security landscape is vastly different from just a few years ago. Take a fresh look at your fleet and locations and determine an upgrade plan based on age, make, and transaction volume for each of your machines.
Then, evaluate your options:
- Upgrade – Machines, software, security, etc. What needs to be swapped out? How much will it cost? What is the timeline?
- Change ATM Strategies – Is it worth the headache to run your ATMs in-house? There are other options available to maintain convenient ATM access for cardholders without the overhead of equipment and compliance. Whether that be a complete outsourcing, changing distribution, or leveraging locations/marketing for added convenience.
Should you choose to move forward with an upgrade of some or all of your fleet, keep in mind the Microsoft migration rights packages for the ATM run twenty-four months before potentially incurring additional upgrade fees. Should migration fail to reach completion within the designated period, it is possible you may be required to purchase a Windows 7 license with initial system orders.
While Windows 7 support ends in January 2020, Windows 10 is looking to be a different animal with, we hope, a bit more power to stick around. This potential is facilitated by its integrated security standards as well as the support/update capabilities that go beyond the standard background software changes.
While there are still possibilities of future “non-Microsoft” OS solutions for the ATM, they have yet to be implemented or widely supported within the industry, further cementing Windows 10 as an essential upgrade. But, for those banks and credit unions sick of the operating system and compliance game, there ARE other options available that can help meet the demand for convenience…and maybe even help your bottom line.