2014年4月8日以后，微软（Microsoft）将终止支持拥有13历史的Windows XP操作系统，同时也不会再提供自动安全补丁。大家或许觉得感到最大不便的应该是那些政府机构和大叔大爷们，但事实上另一批使用Windows XP系统的大户则是银行的自动柜员机以及信用卡销售系统，它们每天都处理着几十亿美元的交易。
杰瑞•内文斯是堪萨斯城一家名叫Snow & Co的鸡尾酒吧的老板，他现在就面临着这样的两难局面。他的酒吧不到一年前从支付服务提供商Micros公司处购买了一台销售点系统，才用了几个月就被告知需要升级至Windows 7系统，升级费用为1700美元。幸运的是他的酒吧根据合同还在服务期内，所以这次升级是免费的。但是内文斯说：“如果你是一家小企业，这意料之外的1700美元的费用让你不禁会想，还是碰碰运气，凑合着接着用吧。”另外内文斯还表示，等待系统升级的客户排了一条“超级长”的队，现在他正在祈祷他的系统能赶在4月8号的期限前完成升级。
水星支付系统（Mercury Payments Systems）的约翰•伯克利指出，不同的零售信用卡处理机的价格相差很远。“如果你有合格的硬件，只需要直接升级操作系统就可以了。但是对于有些商家来说，要从XP升级到Windows 7，就必须更换全新的硬件。”而这个价格就远远不是1700美元能搞定的了。
FIS Global公司北美借记卡和ATM系统副总裁杰伊•韦伯说：“一台购买不到五年的ATM机……升级一次软件的费用是4000到5000美元。”软件成本之所以这样高，有一部分原因是由于ATM机的许多专门软件是基于Windows XP系统编写的，很难轻易嫁接到一个新的操作系统上。另外使用10年以上的ATM机则需要完全更换。韦伯表示，新的高端ATM机的价格至少都在每台5万到6万美元。
另外，运营商们得到的一些错综复杂的消息可能会进一步强化这种犹豫心态。美国支付卡行业安全标准委员会（the Payments Card Industry Security Standards Council）已经向零售商们发布了建议对销售点系统进行升级的警告，但是以他们现行的信用卡网络操作安全标准来看又不需要升级。韦伯本人对这个问题的态度比较乐观，他说：“这个风险很难量化，市场上有很多现成的技术能够有助于减轻这种风险。”比如现在大多数支付系统都在一个“相当封闭的电信环境”里运营。
After April 8th, 2014, Microsoft (MSFT) will end support, including automatic security patches, for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system. This may sound like an inconvenience primarily for government agencies and aging uncles, but another major set of Windows XP users are the automated teller machines and credit card sales systems that handle billions of dollars of transactions daily.
While major retailers and banks are likely to be well-prepared for the end of XP, financial systems based on the software are also in the hands of a far-reaching hodgepodge of independent ATM operators and small businesses. Despite ample warning, industry analysts and insiders agree that high cost and inconvenience will keep plenty of these smaller players running outdated software for many months to come -- with serious implications for the security of their systems.
Jerry Nevins, co-owner of the Kansas City cocktail bar Snow & Co., is close to the dilemma. Snow & Co. bought a point of sale system less than a year ago from the payments servicer Micros -- only to be told within a few months of the need for an upgrade to Windows 7, at a cost of $1,700 for the single-store system. Luckily, Snow & Co. was still under a service agreement, so its upgrade was free. But as Nevins puts it, "If you're a small business, an unexpected $1,700 might be like, eh, I'll go ahead and take my chances." Moreover, Nevins describes a "huge line" of Micros customers waiting for an upgrade. He's crossing his fingers that Snow & Co. will be upgraded before the April 8 deadline.
Costs to retail credit card processors will vary widely, says John Berkeley of Mercury Payment Systems. "If you have the right hardware you can just upgrade the OS, but for some merchants upgrading from XP to Windows 7 can mean all new hardware," likely costing much more than that $1,700.
The challenges of upgrading become even bigger in the case of ATMs. ATM manufacturers are offering software upgrades for machines still based on XP -- though some of those have been available for less than a month. But the cost to upgrade can be staggering.
According to Jay Weber, vice president in charge of North American debit and ATM systems for FIS Global, "An ATM machine purchased in the last five years ... would only need a software upgrade of $4,000 to 5,000 per machine." That software cost is so high in part because much specialized software written for Windows XP can't be easily ported to a new operating system. But ATMs 10 years old or more would need to be completely replaced, and Weber says that new high-end ATMs can cost at least $50,000 to $60,000 per device.
ATM operators and business owners are largely being left to decide on their own whether to upgrade or not, says Weber. "Organizations are trying to look at the investment of the upgrade and weight it against their perceived risk" -- and many seem to be ready to take their chances. "[April 9th] is going to come and go, and there are going to be some merchants who haven't done it yet," says Berkeley. Weber speculates that "it's going to be a trickle approach, a slower ramp-up," with many systems going without an upgrade -- and remaining officially insecure -- through the end of 2014.
This hesitancy may be worsened because operators are getting mixed messages about their risk. The Payments Card Industry Security Standards Council has issued public warnings about the need for retailers to upgrade their point of sale systems, but their current set of standards, which are used to determine eligibility to operate on credit card networks, do not require it. And Weber himself seems sanguine: "The risk is hard to quantify. There's a lot of technology in place in the marketplace to help mitigate the risk," such as the "fairly closed telecom environment" that most payment systems operate on.