Windows 7: Still looking after business (except when it isn't)

The operating system that will not die lingers on in NatWest's ATMs

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Bork!Bork!Bork! In a welcome change from burger-based BSODing, here's Windows 7 tugging at the purse strings in a NatWest ATM in the East Midlands.

Spotted by Register reader Dan in Buxton over the weekend, the ATM appears to be allowing passers-by a glimpse under the covers and revealing that Windows 7, the OS that Microsoft wishes to be destroyed by fire, is responsible for running the show.

The veteran operating system was memorably led behind the barn by a cheery Microsoft engineer back on 14 January. A swing of the axe brought free security updates and patches to an abrupt end (although to be fair to the Windows giant, it is not as if there hadn't been an overwhelming amount of warning).

Windows Embedded POSReady 7 still has over a year of extended support left, kicking the bucket on 12 October 2021, while enterprises unable to pull their fingers out can pay increasing amounts of cash to secure up to a three-year extension.

We checked in with NatWest and were told: "This particular ATM has a fault which we expect to be fixed this afternoon. Our ATMs currently operate on a supported Windows 7 platform. We constantly review our operating systems in order to keep our customers safe and secure."

Whew. We'd have been most distressed if the UK banking giant is running an unsupported operating system on its cash machines. That would be like cocking up a simple domain migration. Oh, wait.

Indeed, the bank has had the odd tussle with IT.

In 2018, its online and mobile banking services dropped offline and some whiffy security practices allowed BBC hacks to hijack a colleague's account in 2016.

So it's reassuring to know that the bank is running only the most secure and up-to-date software in its network of dosh dispensers. Or supported, at least.

While not the first to install hole-in-the-wall machines, NatWest was the first "to go in for them in a big way", according to the bank's own history. By 1969, two years after the first cash dispenser was installed in the UK, NatWest had 75 of the things.

Service was limited, however. Customers had a hole-punched card that they pushed into the machine. A PIN would then be entered and, if correct, a crisp tenner spat out. The machine would keep the card and staff had to manually reconcile accounts before posting the card back to the customer.

Simpler times, for sure. The advent of Windows 7 in the machines of today makes for a for wider variety of services. And a wider variety of borks. ®

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