When ATMs were introduced more than 40 years ago, they were considered advanced technology. Today, not so much. There are 420,000 ATMs in the U.S., and on April 8, a deadline looms for nearly all of them that underscores how sluggishly the nation’s cash delivery system moves forward. That’s the day Microsoft (MSFT) cuts off tech support for Windows XP, meaning that ATMs running the software will no longer receive regular security patches and won’t be in compliance with industry standards. Most machines that get upgraded will shift to Windows 7, an operating system that became available in October 2009. (Some companies get a bit of a reprieve: For ATMs using a stripped-down version of XP known as Windows XP Embedded, which is less susceptible to viruses, Microsoft support lasts until early 2016.)
Inside every ATM casing is a computer, and like all such devices, each one runs on an OS. Microsoft’s 12-year-old Windows XP dominates the ATM market, powering more than 95 percent of the world’s machines and a similar percentage in the U.S., according to Robert Johnston, a marketing director at NCR (NCR), the largest ATM supplier in the U.S.