Blog: Unveiling the Myth of Windows 10 for ATMs

By Justin Van Peursem, MVP Financial Equipment

MVP Free Windows 10 ATM Evaluation

Not very long ago, financial institutions (FIs) completed their final ATM upgrades to Windows 7 with a sigh of relief. Now just a few short years later, FIs are facing another costly and time-consuming upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 support will end January 14, 2020. After that date, FIs face the same security risks they did with the Window 7 migration – no updates, no patches, no technical support, PCI non-compliance, increased operating costs, possible performance issues and more.

With a growing threat of malware and cyberattacks, no FI can afford to do without the necessary security updates which are vital to secure ATM operations. Although Microsoft has announced extended support for Windows 7, the extension is only for three years and depending on how many terminals an institution has in the field choosing extended support could be quite costly. However, it does give banks and credit unions more time to choose the migration path that best fits their needs.

Why Windows 10?

Windows 10 gives version 7 a run for its money in speed and interface, however, its biggest benefit for FIs is security. Windows 10 is being touted as one of the most advanced, secure systems Microsoft has put forth. The operating system (OS) includes a built-in firewall and security scan system.

It is speculated that Microsoft will take Windows 10 to the next level – taking the system to the cloud for added security, additional updates, elimination of physical software and the ability for institutions to offer more advanced functions at the ATM.

While there is talk of developing a more versatile, Linux-based ATM architecture and the ATM Industry Association has unveiled a Next Gen ATM operating system, it has not been fully tested and may not be ready for some time.

The Windows 10 Myth

Despite advanced planning for the Windows 7 migration by banks and credit unions, migration to the new OS was not easy. Manufacturers had long lead times, and there were a great deal of software bugs and system failures for at least a year. The same is true as we inch closer to the Windows 7 sunset. The wait time for new machines, which are still shipping with Windows 7 and a code to let them upgrade to Windows 10 once the OS is certified, is 120 days or more. 

The migration to Windows 10 for ATMs already in the field won’t be as simple as installing a new OS either, since some ATMs will require hardware upgrades. Because of that, manufacturers are advising the purchase of new ATM terminals. While some in the industry are encouraging the narrative of obsolescence, the truth is much more complicated.

Multiple factors can affect the upgrade path for financial institutions, including:

  • Windows 10 Release Date vs Readiness of the Software - As of March 2019 the networks and processors have yet to certify Windows 10 for any ATMs. As we saw with the Windows 7 migration, there likely will also be software bugs that will need to be worked out for at least a year.

  • Manufacturer Timelines - Because all ATMs, except Triton machines, are built overseas, wait times for new ATMs and upgrade kits will take four months or more. With this timeline and the software not yet certified, many FIs may not be able to replace or upgrade ATMs in time to meet the end-of-life deadline and will need to pay for the Microsoft extended support option or face the possibility of going without patches and updates to keep terminals secure and in compliance with PCI.

  • Types of ATM in the Field - Not all ATMs will be obsolete. System requirements for Windows 10 are relatively simple: 64-bit, a minimum of 4GB memory, Intel 4th generation or above and an I5 processor for multifunction machines. In many cases, this level of system can be achieved with a simple core upgrade performed in the field.

What Now?

With long lead times for new machines and upgrade kits, not to mention the logistics of finding available technicians to migrate ATMs to Windows 10 before the January 2020 deadline, many FI are uncertain how to proceed. Should FIs purchase new machines and wait for them to come in? Purchase a Windows-ready refurbished machine, which could be shipped in a matter of weeks? Update the terminal’s core now? Or wait to upgrade hardware and pay for extended Microsoft support?

Experts recommend banks and credit unions do their due diligence to determine exactly what is required and start with an evaluation of the ATM fleet. And, now the ATM experts at MVP Financial Equipment are offering a free evaluation to help institutions discover the best way to navigate the upcoming OS migration. Click here to begin your evaluation.

 A new white paper, Unveiling the Myth of Windows 10, is also available for download for financial institutions that want to learn more about their options.