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Microsoft Pulls XP Support

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JeffL_2
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Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
JeffL_2   4/24/2014 11:45:02 AM
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According to some sources, 420,000 automated teller machines (ATMs), or roughly 75% of them, still use XP, and since the hardware they're built on dates back to the era when dinosaurs roamed the earth (or so it seems), even upgrading them to a more modern generation of Windows isn't even an option. It also seems as if the banks that own these machines either don't understand Linux or don't appreciate that using Linux in clients is just as secure as when it is used in servers, so at least some of them have signed on to special "XP maintenance contracts" that Redmond apparently offers. I guess this means we can look forward to many more Target-like "horror stories" about hackers persuading ATMs to disgorge endless waves of twenty-dollar bills over sidewalks everywhere, what fun!

Olaf Barheine
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
Olaf Barheine   4/24/2014 12:18:15 PM
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As far as I know, ATMs use 'WinXP Embedded' and this version is supported by Microsoft until 2016. Thus, there should be enough time to upgrade the systems. Furthermore, I think, ATMs have no internet connections because the finance institutes have their own network. At least here in Germany this should be the case.

JeffL_2
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
JeffL_2   4/24/2014 1:03:41 PM
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Olaf,

Separate networks for financial transactions JUST FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURITY?
Sounds like a reasonable approach in a country like Germany which values the "technically correct" way of doing things. But here in the US you've got to remember the financial industry is run by super-cost-conscious "technophobes" who have allowed us to get probably something like 15 years behind in such basic security technologies as chip-and-PIN credit cards (which are still almost unheard of here). And there was something reported about banks paying for XP support and I'm NOT really sure which version of XP the ATMs commonly use, but it surely was whatever they could get their hands on the cheapest at the time. No there won't be any money spent to "improve ATM security" until articles about ATM hacking start showing up in the papers here regularly...we're pretty much doomed to that future already it seems!

garydpdx
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
garydpdx   4/24/2014 4:08:16 PM
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Thanks, Olaf, for clarifying.  I'm not so worried about ATM's at the moment but all the XP systems that are still running in critical applications like the power grid and the military.  Granted, there are some apps that don't run in W8 nor W7, maybe not even Vista (which is supported to 2017) but for the rest, what's the excuse?  It's not like it happened overnight, there was a two year warning prior to the April 8 close.

Sheepdoll
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
Sheepdoll   4/25/2014 12:29:25 AM
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@garydpdx - but for the rest, what's the excuse?

If it an't broke why fix it.  I work on machines built in the 1920s. They really knew how to engineer back then. Granted these instruments fade in and out of popularity.  Factory support ended 50 years ago. Still they work and continue to entertain.

As I said before, I need special drivers which run custom real time protocols.  Or dev tools which work only on Window$ because there are "Only 5 people in the world who use macs." and the vendor is too cheap to hire designers like myself who could port the software over.

It does not help that Apple removed Quicktime and MIDI support from Mavericks probably due to DRM issues.  Now you have to "Render" MIDI through the audio engine.  Of course no one complaines about apple, becouse well, they are perfect and make cool stuff that looks good.

Micro$oft is heading in this same  direction.  Closed hardware drivers and a machine that can only run the social networking app of the week. with lots of pretty colors and pentaphonic sound.   It is the old television network "we know better than you, buy our soap because it is made with coal tar waste product and good for you." attitude.

If I had something like 40,000 man years to script and compile programs, such could probably be done with Linux. Effectively porting working windows95 real time code inside a kernel extension.

 

aunderwoodii
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
aunderwoodii   4/25/2014 1:23:56 AM
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Thank you for hitting the nail on the head. XP Embedded support doesn't end until 1-JAN-2017. The effects are far wider sweeping than this makes them out to be due to the fact that things like built in SAN management workstations or even the underlying OSes can be XP embedded. EMC Mid range and I believe a few other people use XP embedded for some releases of the underlying OSes in their SANs. 

In terms of there being issues with legacy OSes at the enterprise level, yes they will happen. A lot of the security risk is averted due to these systems being isolated because they are critical infrastructure, the same thing that makes them somewhat immutable and difficult to migrate off of as well.

 

AZskibum
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
AZskibum   4/25/2014 10:11:22 AM
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"Furthermore, I think, ATMs have no internet connections."

I would assume the same thing, otherwise they would've been hacked long ago, with or without MS support of XP.

On the other hand, banks do have internet connections that allow remote electronic banking from any internet-connected device, including your smartphone. To my knowledge, there have been no widespread security problems with that...yet.

CMathas
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
CMathas   4/24/2014 12:33:54 PM
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Sometimes, the thought of reverting to the 60's is attractive.

Curie_US
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Re: Here's hoping the banks look out for your money
Curie_US   4/25/2014 9:19:30 AM
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CMATHIS: 

While I realize your comment was made in jest, I wholeheartedly agree with the concept behind it.  Sometimes (Many times) I believe engineering efforts & the results are done solely for the exercise of engineering, and NOT for the betterment of the consuming public. 

Believe it or not, but we have an MS-DOS PC at home (actually have a couple working units) which we use for one application.  Many years ago, there was a program called MANAGING YOUR MONEY by Andrew Tobias.  It's a GREAT program for managing home finances, even includes a lot of "advanced" features for folks who have a considerable investment portfolio.  And, it includes links to I-R-S schedules, making the annual reporting process far easier.  Obviously, this program is no longer supported AND the I-R-S features are out-of-date, BUT the basic GENERAL LEDGER-like format is invaluable in good record-keeping.  Makes January a pleasure to live through.  Finally, the ULTIMATE greatness of this program is that since it is MS-DOS, there's NO worry about viruses, malware, hacking of personal data, passwords, etc.

It's a real shame that under Balmer, MICROSOFT was not able to take a very introspective look at their main product, WINDOW XP, itemize its deficiences, & build on it as a solid, bullet-proof product.  When they published VISTA, it didn't take but a few weeks for the consuming public to pan it to oblivion.  One would have concluded that with VISTA being a debacle, they SHOULD have reverted to the core code of XP, and tightened it up, since it became THE MOST POPULAR operating system in history.  But, NO!, they ambled aimlessly down a uncharted path.  I guess we can only hope that the new CEO of MICROSOFT sees the errors in their ways, and efforts some significant corrective action.  There's too many installations to ignore!!! 

Matt S.
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ATM machines once ran OS/2
Matt S.   4/24/2014 5:24:28 PM
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Throughout the 90s, I was an advocate of OS/2 - an operating system that looked like a Windows-for-Workgroups 3.11 on steroids in its 1.1 revision (ca. 1990) and then later in its Warp series, a different thing altogether.  In the 90s, many if not most ATMs used OS/2 Warp 2 or Warp 3.  In the early 'aughts, IBM quietly discontinued the use of OS/2 and ATMs have been running XP or some variant ever since.  

I don't see why such a smooth transition couldn't take place once again.  I think the ATM argument is moot and pointless.

 

 

Curie_US
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Re: ATM machines once ran OS/2
Curie_US   4/25/2014 9:35:13 AM
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Matt S:

During that period when I-B-M was "fighting" MICROSOFT for superiority of multitasking PC opsys, I was involved with an applications development team who demonstrated a MULTI-USER version of OS/2.  There was a multi-day conference of applications developers for end-users of this programming environment.  Repeatedly, the folks demonstrating their program running under MULTI-USER OS/2 ran seriously errant programs in order to impress the attendees that forcibly causing an app to crash DID NOT shut down the entire OS/2 environment.  Other apps, whether the main one, or word processing programs or LOTUS 1-2-3 continue to run UNAFFECTED in their own windows!  Not once during this conference were they able to force OS/2 into a "GENERAL PROTECTION FAULT", etc. mode.

Than I-B-M "surrendered" to WINDOWS & MICROSOFT by ceasing distribution of OS/2 will go down in the history books of Computer Operating Systems as one of the BIGGEST failures in effective marketing since the dawn of the Age of Abacus!

Matt S.
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Re: ATM machines once ran OS/2
Matt S.   4/25/2014 11:38:32 AM
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Curie_US

Very solid operating system indeed.  What I used it for was to develop DOS netware applications in their VMs that worked.  While others were fudging with QEMM and the like in DOS, I was developing multi-user DOS apps that used private netware connections (i.e. each one required its own Netware license) in virtual isolated DOS instances, each with varying configurations.  Some "machines" had SVGA, VGA, EGA (remember EGA?), more/less colors, more less RAM.  OS/2 was in fact the very best solution for developing DOS applications in the day - and in no case did a DOS operating instance affect the OS/2 host.

One thing that hurt OS/2 adoption was the weird thing about how the 486/Pentium turbo mode needed to be turned off when installing the OS.  People could not see WHY or HOW there was any difference - after all - most operating systems do not have a kernel alignment during install.  If the turbo mode was left on during installation, OS/2 would until reinstalled trap randomly which frustrated many a developer who blamed their tools (which were excellent).  Leaving turbo mode off during installation when people bothered to try, however, allowed one to experience OS/2 as it was meant.

 

 

 

Curie_US
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Re: ATM machines once ran OS/2
Curie_US   4/25/2014 11:58:01 AM
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That's interesting.  I don't remember those particulars anymore. 

The apps that I was involved in were ports of programs from the I-B-M Sys 3X machines, mostly written in either RPG or I-B-M mainframe BASIC.  There was a company that had developed a quasi-compiler whch could take this source code, tokenize it, and run it on PC products.  It was usable either as a standalone PC, or a NOVELL-connected network.  It was an ideal solution for small to medium enterprises which had considerable investment in custom applications software to directly port over NOT ONLY the data files, but also the program files.  This "environment" was so powerful that it supported INDEX file generation, expanded SORTing functions, etc.  The BIGGEST hassle was in converting the I-B-M format files (with PD data types) from EBCDIC to ASCII, and transferring the files from the larger machines to the PC, since there was little to no convenient method to go from an I-B-M 8" diskette to the PC's 5 1/4" or 3 1/2" diskettes.  But, we're talking about the 1980s & early 1990s, so that's eons ago in the Wacky world of Computerdom.

David Ashton
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XP
David Ashton   4/24/2014 8:26:15 PM
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Microsoft isn't pulling support for XP because it is 12 years old, they're doing it because they want you to buy Windows 8......

horash
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Re: XP
horash   6/24/2014 6:18:13 PM
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I was trying to be skeptical about it but the more I read about this topic, the more I deem this thought to be true. There are still tons of users on XP who cannot upgrade for a number of reasons, legacy software being one of them. Microsoft has clearly moved on, but the users have not. Companies have had to come up with solutions to protect Windows XP users. One example of this is Rollback XP, an instant recovery software for XP users that will protect them from viruses and other forms of malware. It is even being offered for free. 

David Ashton
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Re: XP
David Ashton   6/24/2014 8:41:41 PM
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@Horash... "I was trying to be skeptical about it..."   

Don't be skeptical about it....Microsoft has only one raison d'etre and that's to make money off us.   Given the installed base of happy XP users, they could easily keep up security updates and maybe get an updated version of IE that works with XP.  But that would cost them money and not bring any in.   Maybe they should have charged $20 a year for support, I'd have paid that.    But they have given me the most powerful incentive yet to look more at Linux.....

TyJason
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XP is still out there on even secure places
TyJason   4/25/2014 1:26:45 PM
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So I just found out that one of our "utilities" we sell electrical equipment to still is on XP.  And its one of the most security focused utilities we sell to.  We provide a mini SCADA system to them as well.  Right now we are trying to provide LDAP authentification to correspond with SCADA yet they are still on XP wow. 

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