On Jan. 14, 2020, Windows 7 support ends.

Buyer beware: 7 questions to ensure your ATM is Windows 10 compatible

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With 2019's arrival, banks and credit unions are another year older, another year wiser and another year closer to the full-scale rollout of Windows 10. The latest operating system has been available for several years now, but by Jan. 14 of 2020, Microsoft will end its extended support for the outmoded Windows 7 OS and focus solely on Windows 10.

Migrating to the latest OS is a major undertaking, which is why a number of banks have gotten a jump start with Windows 10-enabled ATMs up and running in their facilities. Those that haven't face a significant challenge in the coming year, but one that, once overcome, will surely have positive ramifications for all financial institutions. Windows 7 has long been the industry standard OS and most legacy hardware supports it, but it is indeed time to move to the next level.

Beyond superficial functionality improvements, Windows 10 represents some of the most advanced security features yet designed for an operating system – a critical consideration for FIs looking to combat threats to their ATM networks. As noted by ATM Marketplace, Windows 10 is arguably the most advanced OS upgrade the industry has seen in quite a while," and institutions that have already made the transition are experiencing some of the benefits, with cybercrime resilience being chief among them.

As we cruise towards 2020, banks and credit unions may look to replace legacy systems with state of the art ATMs to ensure compatibility with Windows 10. Yet the reality isn't so simple. 

Suppliers continue to sell ATMs that run on Microsoft 7."

Here's the problem: Even though most ATM suppliers do have Windows 10-enabled ATMs available for purchase, they're still selling machines that run on the soon-to-be defunct OS. Even reputable, well-known suppliers are scrambling to accommodate the new OS, sometimes resulting in a serious lack of transparency on the consumer level, driven by using verbiage that suggests that ATMs are "next generation," when in reality they are relics of the past. This can create unintended compatibility headaches – magnified to migraine intensity when you are replacing dozens of ATMs throughout your branch network, both off-site and on premises. 

In short, buyer beware. With such a significant investment in new technology and the 2020 deadline drawing close, the risk of being undermined by compatibility issues is nothing to take lightly. However, by asking yourself a few key questions prior to selecting replacement ATMs, you can ensure that the process goes smoothly and frustration free.

Here are some of the questions to ask your vendor before investing in a particular ATM model that's Windows 10 enabled:

1. Is this model truly cutting-edge?
Make no mistake: Not everything that is "new" is "state of the art." Even new hardware can fall prey to issues that can result in technological obsolescence. And, regrettably, some industry leaders in the ATM space are offering buyers "sun-settled" or outmoded hardware; fudging the truth by presenting these machines as "new" when the reality is that these ATMs have already been surpassed by other machines on the market. 

2. Is this product really Windows 10 enabled?
This is perhaps the most important question of all: Is the model equipped with the Windows 10 operating system? As previously referenced, numerous suppliers have been selling ATMs that have the latest OS processors already built in; supporting banks and credit unions transition to next generation retail banking. They're not ubiquitous quite yet, though, and some suppliers are getting around having to offer Windows 10 by using nebulous language about what OS is included with the hardware. Be mindful of suppliers using vague descriptions of the listed OS such as "MS Windows" instead of Windows 7 or Windows 10.

If nothing else, make sure you specifically ask about Windows 10 and whether the model includes the appropriate modifications.

3. Has this product been called something different in the past?
Did you know that Corn Pops used to be called Sugar Pops? The ingredients didn't change, but in an effort to appear more health-conscious, Kellogg's supplanted the word "sugar" with "corn," even though the breakfast cereal is loaded with the sweet stuff.

The same standard applies for ATMs – a machine may be the same no matter its new name. A top-of-the-line "new" model may have since been supplanted by a model of a different name or number. Do your homework on any model you are reviewing so you know when it first hit the market – the year, in particular – and whether anything more up to date has since been released. Ask your supplier if the model is indeed brand new or if it's merely under an alternative moniker.

4. Is this model supported in the U.S. market?
Cash is a universal language. But because the rules and regulations of monetary policy vary from country to country, ATMs used in Europe or South America often have different functionalities than those in the U.S. Make sure the Windows 10 ATM you're considering is geared to the U.S. and is fully compliant with federal law.

5. Is this product or model certified on my network?
Just as ATMs have an increasing number of functionalities – such as bill payment, cash recycling, e-receipts and biometric authentication – they're also configured in any number of ways. That's all well and good, but if it's not certified to work with your network, you could face critical issues with getting the terminals up and running. Processing network certifications can result in a 6 to 9 month delay in full ATM functionality – a lifetime for bank branches and credit unions who rely heavily on ATMs to satisfy their customer base. Be mindful of your network prior to shopping.

6. Will this product or model be supported over the next 5 to 10 years?
Windows 7 debuted in 2009, so 11 years of support is quite the track record. What's great about Windows 10 is it's expected to last every bit as long – if not longer. Make it a point to ask about whether the ATM model you're considering will be supported for the foreseeable future. Move on to something else if you're told otherwise.

7. Does the supplier have the infrastructure to support this model from a parts perspective?
ATMs are subject to wear and tear, like any other piece of machinery. That's not a problem so long as components are available to replace them, be they broken dispensers or balky keypads. Ask your supplier about maintenance offerings and their long-term plan to provide assistance to fix what's broken or malfunctioning.

BranchServ is your steadfast source for systems you can trust and full-circle transparency about what our products deliver, both for ATM optimization and Windows 10 compatibility. Whether you're buying a new model with the latest OS processor already installed or want to get your current ATMs up to speed, BranchServ can do it all.  We also have field service technicians at the ready for all of your repair needs.

Contact us to learn more!