It's that time to make the switch to Windows 10. Here's what you need to know to understand why.

Change is coming: Are you ready for Windows 10?

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Microsoft Windows, long hailed as the gold standard operating system for PCs and other hardware, has been through several iterations since its debut in 1985. Some updates were hits, others were (big) misses – perhaps none more lambasted than Windows ME, panned by the likes of PC World, Wired and just about every other computer software publication.

"There's no time like the present to make the switch to Windows 10."

Luckily, Windows 10 appears to have won over the critics and has quickly been adopted by consumers and businesses alike. Industry authorities have been urging banks and credit unions to make the switch for a while now. Although some have already implemented the transition, many have decided to wait it out. But with Microsoft set to stop supporting Windows 7 in less than a year – Jan. 14, 2020 is the cut-off date – there's no time like the present to make the switch to avoid ATM service delays.

You've probably heard a little of this and that about Windows 10. Sure, it has expanded functionality, state-of-the-art security features, an intuitive UX, the whole package. But what about the bottom line for bank branches and credit unions? 

What's the overarching upshot of Windows 10?
By virtually all indications, Windows 10 represents a significant improvement in performance and ease of use compared to its predecessors. So much so that ATM producers have shipped Windows 10-enabled processors for going on five years, according to ATM Marketplace. These same developers have also offered webinars so banking professionals can quickly learn how the OS functions differently than Windows 7. There's always a bit of a learning curve for new software, but it's a short one for Windows 10. And since it's been out since 2014, Microsoft has had plenty of time to work the kinks out so the transition is seamless.

"Windows 10 promises to bring added security to users' daily transactions."

What will its implementation improve?
In addition to greater functionality and ease of use, the security features of Windows 10 are second to none. ATM fraud has risen in recent years, up 39 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to the corresponding period in 2016, according to FICO. This has led to the creation of more cardless ATMs, but these can also be compromised.

Thanks to multi-factor authentication, contactless and biometric technologies as well as physical-to-digital integrations that allow users to sync their portable devices to ATMs, Windows 10 promises to bring added security to users' daily transactions. Studies conducted by the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) indicate Windows 10 is particularly adept at identifying malware and cyber attacks in general. This may explain why the ATMIA advised banks and credit unions begin the migration shortly after Windows 10 was released to the public.

Who will be affected by the Windows 10 migration?
In a word: everyone. With Windows OS overwhelmingly the industry standard for FIs, there's no escaping the rollout of Windows 10 – or, more accurately, the discontinuation of support for Windows 7 (more on that in a bit).

Is Windows 10 migration mandatory?
From a technical perspective, the answer is no. The switch isn't legally regulated or mandated, just like there's no legal imperative for a person to upgrade their smartphone every time the latest iteration is released. But unlike junking your old iPhone in favor of a new model, there can be serious consequences associated with not migrating to Windows 10: You're putting your customers – and your bank – into serious jeopardy by sticking with your current OS. For starters, the Jan. 14 deadline is very real; after that point, Microsoft won't be able – or willing – to help you with any troubleshooting concerns, nor will it release security patches. Even third-party vendors are likely to turn from the outdated OS given the lack of support resources. This leaves holes in your security and service network which, if it becomes a full-scale data breach, can lay waste to your bottom line, reputation and customer loyalty. 

What do I need to make the switch?
Change is sometimes challenging, but it's necessary, given the pace with which technology develops and customer satisfaction can wane. To make the Windows 10 migration a smooth one, begin a dialogue with your ATM vendor. Your vendor will have recommendations about how to get your machines updated so there's minimal downtime based on your specific needs and customer habits. You should also conduct an audit so you can confirm that the machines you have are capable of running Windows 10. Otherwise you may need to purchase a new fleet.

Serving more than 12,000 bank and credit union branches throughout the U.S., BranchServ can get your ATMs in Windows 10 mode quickly and efficiently. We specialize in transformation so you can adjust to the ever-changing security rigors and technological adaptations of the moment and stay one step ahead, providing equipment, training and customer-centric services that are truly replete with value.