Banks turning to Linux to replace Windows XP on their ATMs

Tux, the Linux penguin mascot.

A number of banks plan to migrate their automated teller machines' operating system to Linux after Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows XP two weeks from now.

David Tente, U.S. executive director of the ATM Industry Association, said there is some heartburn in the industry over Microsoft's end-of-support decision. He said the interest in a Windows alternative presently comes from a small group of larger operators since they will be the most heavily impacted by the end of the XP-era.

XP currently powers nearly 95% of ATMs around the world. Over 60 percent of the more than 400,000 ATMs in the U.S. are still expected to be on XP past April 8.

When Microsoft ends support for the OS on April 8, ATM operators who have not upgraded will be running their systems on an obsolete operating system with no technical support.

Microsoft said ATMs still running on XP should be considered unprotected and has urged XP users to move to a newer version of Windows as soon as possible.

Tente noted that some ATM operators are looking at the possibility of using a non-Microsoft operating system to synch their hardware and software upgrades. Many operators have already moved or are moving to Windows 7, the next available Windows upgrade for ATM systems. Others are considering Linux as an alternative, Tente said.

A new ATM can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 and operators typically like to have at least a seven- to 10-year lifecycle for each one. In some cases, ATMs remain in place for 10 to 15 years.

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