Business ecommerce obsolescence

Windows XP ATM failure

There’s a Post Office down the road from my mam and dad’s place with a Barclays ATM. Yesterday I strode up to said ATM with a view to extracting some cash. Totally legally of course.

Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a screen showing what appeared to be Windows XP booting up. Wow I thought and reached for the gun in my holster phone in my pocket to capture the moment in pixels. I was too slow. I’d never have made a good cowboy.

By the time I had unlocked the phone and fired up the camera (checked the film, taken a light reading, adjusted the focus etc) all I got was a curt apology stating that the cashpoint machine was currently dysfunctional and would I mind awfully trying the one at the Isle of Man Bank down the road.

Disappointed I turned my back on the machine and walked dejectedly towards the IoM bank. I thought that might have been a scoop. “XP brings down global banking system”. Wasn’t going to be the same without the photographic evidence.

I parked the thought whilst we spent the afternoon enjoying the delights of Onchan Park on its opening day of the season. Crazy golf at its best. The pitch and put and the bowling were closed due to waterlogged greens but that didn’t spoil our fun.

This morning my thoughts returned to the global banking crisis but research suggests that nothing untoward had happened. No doom laden headlines. Shock horror probe. Must have been a local issue.

I did find a few timely articles discussing the fact that all the world’s ATMs appear to run on XP. Speculation as to whether this was a ticking time bomb together with quotes from Microsoft suggesting that a move to Windows 8.1 would be very sensible from a security perspective. No news at all really.

One does wonder what the next generation of ATM o/s will be. Microsoft doesn’t exactly feel right but there again it would probably be easiest from a backwards compatibility perspective. I’m not that interested. It’s Sunday morning and I’m typing this post with my thumb on my droid. There is bacon to be cooked.

Easy like Sunday morning…

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

7 replies on “Windows XP ATM failure”

Funny that Tref – all three of the Wragby Road Tesco ATMs were down on Wednesday morning this week – no evidence of Windoze XP though or any alternative suggestions. Had to go to that highly successful bank the Co-op to get some cash. Perhaps they run on Linux…

If ever see a Cash Machine with a Windows screen displayed, I take a photo. I know this has happened twice in the last 4 years or so, but now can I find the photo? Of course not.

Annoyingly it seems the Google feature to Auto-Backup your photos the cloud is somewhat letting me down, as it’s only allowing me to see the last 1000 or so of over 2500 photos it’s backed up this way. I know I have the photo somewhere…I just can’t find it 🙁

Ooooo, spooky!

I’m currently up in Dundee visiting family. We’d popped across to Brought Ferry, both needed some cash and used a TSB ATM. I got my money fine, but when Tim went to get money out, mid transaction the ATM crashed and gave us the Windows XP dialogue box, blank screen, then a DOS screen and spent the next 10 minutes rebooting.

It swallowed his Lloyds card, and the nearest Lloyds branch was in Edinburgh…..

An hour on the phone to Lloyds & TSB. Nothing they could do, his ID and user credentials for online banking are all back down South (stupidly horrible complex ID to remember, it’s not something your carry with you). Luckily he had an alternative card to use, the old one canceled and by the time we get back down South next week the replacement card should be waiting for him.

However, the episode got me thinking about how vulnerable the banking ATM system & processes are. Reliant in Windows XP and the majority of them run on Floppy Disk drives ( remember them?). And as for the end user, no card, no cash, no ID to hand, and no Branch for over 80 miles away – the entire service is run for the ease of the banking industry to run. It’s not built with any meaningful Service Design or User Experience at the forefront.

A complete overhaul is needed I think.

There’s a few videos on Youtube of this happening (someone did once tell me that a lot of ATMs ran Windows and to be honest I was skeptical so ran a search and sure enough up came the videos)

Guess it saves them having to build a kernel and user interface from scratch.

There’s no chance any ATM will be running 8.1 any time soon, and not even 8 either.
No major ATM vendor provides an OEM Windows 8/ 8.1 solution. All those required drivers for the proprietary hardware means banks deploy what NCR, Diebold and Wincor choose.

On the rare occasion I need cash these days I tend to spend more time looking at the card slot and the area over the keypad to determine if some oik (politest term I can think of) has placed a skimmer to read the magstripe and camera to capture my PIN on it rather than looking to see if there is any indication of what OS it runs on the screen to be honest.

I quickly retrieve my card, file the cash in my wallet and move on.

Other than security I don’t know what benefit moving to 8.1 would bring unless they want to make it touchscreen driven (large tiles to select services and the like)

I gather in some parts of London they have installed ATMs that give the on screen greetings and instructions in Cockney rhyming slang which was quite amusing I thought.

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