In an unsurprising move, ATM operators and other financial organizations are beginning to look to Linux as a replacement for their outdated Windows XP installations. That these organizations are deciding to move from XP only now is a testament to the staying power of the OS and a certain conservatism in financial circles.
“Windows XP currently powers nearly 95% of ATMs around the world,” wrote ComputerWorld reporter Jaikumar Vijayan. The operating system, which Microsoft will stop supporting on April 8, was a popular choice for embedded systems and ATMs for most of the decade as countless references to the Blue Screen Of Death in odd places would suggest.
New ATM operating systems must be Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) compliant and hardware updates may be necessary to upgrade current ATMs – which have a five- to ten-year lifespan – to next generation OSes like Window 7. Linux, obviously, is a solid choice because it is open and can be hardened even on legacy hardware. However, as the “PIN and chip” style cards begin appearing in the U.S. the need to update nearly every POS terminal and ATM may be far more pressing.
Presumably, financial firms can keep their old machines running for a few more months or even years, but in the end XP is dead, and despite pleas to maintain support for the embedded OS, Microsoft is intent on pulling the plug. Which means, of course, the BSOD may soon be a thing of the past.