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.
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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.
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“Obviously we understood the limitations of Windows in regard to … security and addressed these issues during the … implementation,” said Karl Felsen, spokesman for Fleet Bank, the seventh-largest U.S. bank.
“A Windows platform will give us more flexibility and opportunity for future enhancements,” said Julie Davis, spokeswoman for Bank of America, the biggest U.S. bank. “The Windows platform allows us to put even better protections in place. However, we won't discuss the details of our security procedures.” [Privacy Digest]