Blog: Unveiling the Myth of Windows 10 for ATMs

By Mark Smith, 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 by January 14, 2020 or 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.

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, and it is speculated that Microsoft will take Windows 10 to the next level – taking the system to the cloud for added security, additional updates and elimination of physical software.

However, with just a year to go and long lead times for upgrade kits and new machines, Microsoft has not yet released a Windows 10 version for ATMs ‒ leaving many banks and credit unions apprehensive about the upcoming migration. And, 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 may not be ready for prime time by the announced end-of-life date for Windows 7.

The Windows 10 Myth

Despite advanced planning for the Windows 7 migration by banks and credit unions, migration to the version 7 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 migration to Windows 10 won’t be as simple as installing a new OS either, since some ATMs will require hardware upgrades as well. 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 - Once the OS is released, it will have to be certified by the networks and the ATM manufacturers will have to program drivers to allow any OS to operate on their machines. There may also be software bugs that will have to be worked out.

  • Manufacturer Timelines - With long lead times due to machines and components being built overseas, despite the best planning by FIs may not be able to replace or upgrade ATMs in time to meet the end-of-life deadline for Windows 7.

  • Types of ATM in the Field - Not all ATMs will be obsolete. System requirements for Windows 10 are relatively simple, requiring 64-bit, a recommended 4GN memory, Intel 4th generation or above and an I5 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 so much uncertainty, FIs don’t know if they should purchase new machines, purchase a Windows-ready refurbished machine, update the terminal’s core now or wait. And, to complicate matters further, tariffs are beginning to take effect ‒ which may drive the cost up since the only ATMs that are still manufactured on U.S. soil are those made by Triton Systems and terminals refurbished by companies such as MVP Financial Equipment.

To discover the best way to navigate the upcoming OS migration, the first step is to evaluate your fleet. For a free evaluation from the ATM experts at MVP Financial Equipment, click here.

A new white paper, Unveiling the Myth of Windows 10, is also available for download.