The last ATM you used probably didn't feel very cutting-edge compared to your smartphone. That's because it's probably running Windows XP, an operating system so old, Microsoft will stop supporting it in April.
How did the once-futuristic automatic teller machine get so far behind? Fragmentation, basically. There are over 400,000 ATMs in the US, many of which are managed by small-fleet vending machine companies or individual businesses. Even some of the larger banks have ancient ATMs: 3000 of JPMorgan's machines are too old to upgrade to Windows XP.
Microsoft is selling extended support packages for Windows XP, which JPMorgan and others are using to buy upgrade time. Operators who do nothing will still have functional machines, but they'll be vulnerable to hacking and malware.
ATM manufacturer Diebold tells Businessweek that even if a machine's software is vulnerable, customer balances will still be protected by standard anti-fraud measures. ATM operators have another deadline coming up: the 2015 switch to microchip-embedded credit cards. Given the recent credit cardhacking news, hopefully ATM operators quit ignoring that "updates available" icon. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Picture: Shutterstock / Pabkov