Why there's no escaping Windows 10 migration

It's the old story … ATM meets operating system. 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 all over again with a new, fancier OS, and then simply wait for the death knell to ring yet again.


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.


The cut-off date of Jan. 14, 2020, is still almost a year-and-a-half out, but we all know how fast the months fly when you have an entire ATM fleet upgrade to plan.


While the logical step would be an industry upgrade to Windows 8, mirroring the procession in the consumer space, ATM developers and manufacturers are instead skipping this transition and moving directly to the Windows 10 platform.


Why Windows 10?


Running an unsupported operating system is never advisable. The longer an ATM sits without updated security patches, the more vulnerable it becomes, as each day adds new malware, jackpotting, and other cyberattacks.


Windows 10 is arguably the most advanced OS upgrade the ATM industry has seen in quite a while. It comes packaged with built-in security for detection and prevention of emerging cybersecurity threats.


It also touts updates intended to prolong its lifespan 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" ATM operator upgrade as Microsoft moves to a service-based platform.


Why not something else?


The ATM Industry Association has stated its position on ATM operating systems, championing the possibility of "non-Microsoft alternatives, such as Linux-based ATMs or Android-operated ATMs."


Currently, though, while there are a few proprietary operating systems 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 available with the Windows 7 and Windows 10 platforms.


In fact, ATM manufacturers have been anticipating Windows — and even developing for it — since well before the end-of-life announcement for Windows 7.


Diebold Nixdorf, one of the oldest and largest ATM producers, has been shipping machines with Windows 10-compatible processors since mid-2014. The company even hosted a webinar on the benefits of Windows 10 migration and the "wow-factors and features" the software would enable at the ATM.


What now?


It's time to start planning if you haven't already. While it might be tempting, it would be inadvisable to rely on your risk assessments from the Windows 7 upgrade. Thanks to EMV and endless criminal innovation, the security landscape is vastly different from what it was 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 your ATMs — Machines, software, security, etc. What needs to be swapped out? How much will it cost? How long will it take?
  • Change your ATM strategy — Does it still make sense to run your ATMs in-house? There are ways to maintain convenient ATM access for cardholders without the overhead of equipment and compliance, including outsourcing your fleet, changing distribution or leveraging locations/marketing for added convenience.


If you choose to upgrade some or all of your fleet, keep in mind that Microsoft migration rights packages for the ATM run 24 months before potentially incurring additional upgrade fees. If your migration isn't complete within the designated period, it is possible you may be required to purchase a Windows 7 license with initial system orders.


What it means long-term


Windows 10 is looking to be a very different animal from Windows 7 — hopefully, one with a longer life facilitated by integrated security standards and support and update capabilities that go beyond mere background software changes.


Although there is the possibility of a future non-Microsoft OS for ATMs, such a solution has yet to be implemented or fully embraced by the industry, further cementing Windows 10 as an essential upgrade.


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