Within three years, most bank machines that dispense cash will run on the Windows operating system, according to a study published last week.
By 2005, 65 percent of bank ATMs (not including free-standing machines in places like convenience stores and casinos) in the United States will use a stripped-down version of Windows. About 12 percent of the machines will use the operating system by the end of this year, according to Gwenn Bezard, an analyst at market researcher Celent.
Bezard asked 20 of the top 60 banks in the country about their plans to upgrade ATMs. He also interviewed the top 10 ATM manufacturers and software vendors.
He concluded the banking industry is ready to scrap IBM's OS/2 operating system, which powers most ATMs today. They would prefer Windows, a platform they consider "open" in that it is compatible with their internal corporate networks. Also, it's so ubiquitous that they can add features to all their ATMs without having to write multiple pieces of code for different machines.
"Because we are seeing so many mergers and acquisitions in the last few years, you have large banks running a fleet of ATM hardware," Bezard said. "With open technologies it is easier to run different types of hardware on the same software."
While the infamous blue screen of death may haunt many desktop computer users, the banking industry and security experts dismiss the fear that someone will break into Windows-powered ATMs to empty bank accounts. For one, the ATMs will use a stripped-down version of Windows NT that is quite different from the software on desktop computers.
"What Microsoft actually sells to the banks for ATM use is a cut-down version of Windows that doesn't contain things like Web servers," said Ross Anderson, a researcher in Cambridge, England, and author of Security Engineering. "They have tried to cut out the unnecessary rubbish that clutters up the typical PC. How good a job they've done, I just don't know.... So we definitely can't rule out the possibility that someone in the future writes a Slammer-style worm that causes thousands of ATMs to start spewing out cash." Continue reading see source: Windows to Power ATMs in 2005