Microsoft Corp may lose some big customers when it pushes through with its plan to stop issuing support to Windows XP beginning April 8. That is because several financial services firms are now considering migrating their fleets of ATMs from Windows XP to the open operating system Linux. They think that doing so would give them better grasp over their own software and hardware cycles.
According to the executive director in the US of the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) David Tente, the pending end of support for the 12-year-old OS would create a ‘heartburn’ in the industry. Some larger operators of ATMs have already expressed their intention to adopt Linux as replacement to Windows XP after April 8.
To date, the old OS operates on about 95% of all ATMs all over the world. After the deadline set by Microsoft next month, most ATMs would have not yet upgraded to a newer system. The result, those machines would operate on an obsolete OS with no possible technical support and less security protection.
It should also be noted that over 60% of around 400,000 ATMs across the US are expected to remain on Windows XP after April 8. Microsoft has already warned that such machines must be considered as unprotected. The company has been persistent in urging the operators of those ATMs to immediately migrate to a newer Windows version.
For its part, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has already advised that certain compensating controls would be implemented after April 8. Those would have to be met for any machine to remain as PCI compliant. PCI SSC oversees security standards across the payment industry.
Going to Linux
Some ATM operators have already moved to Windows 7 or are already in the process of migration. But a significant number of those financial services firms are also considering taking Linux as an alternative or replacement. It should be noted that before adopting Windows XP, most of those ATMs used to operate on the OS/2 operating system of IBM. Thus, going back to non-Windows system would not be a problem.
And why would those operators prefer the free Linux over another Windows OS? First, doing so would give them greater control over their own upgrading timetable. Many operators don’t like the idea that Microsoft constantly advises them to upgrade to a new system. Second, moving to Windows 7 or more especially to Windows 8 would be costly to the operators. In general, each ATM (with a lifespan of about 10 years to 15 years) costs about $15,000 to $60,000 to install.