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When you insert a smart card into a smart card reader, Windows tries to download and install the smart card minidrivers for the card through Plug and Play services. If the driver for the smart card is not available at any of the preconfigured locations, such as Windows Update, WSUS, or intranet paths, and a custom Crypto service provider is not already installed on the system, you receive the following error message in the notification area:
However, if the user is provided with only item 3 or 4 from this list, the smart card continues to work on the system. However, the user will receive the error message that is mentioned in this section every time that they insert the smart card.
All smart cards require additional software to work in Windows unless there is an inbox driver that lets the user use the card without installing additional software. The Windows Smart Card Framework was improved in Windows 7 to enable the automatic downloading of smart card minidrivers from Windows Update or from other similar locations such as a WSUS server when the smart card is inserted into the reader. All smart cards that successfully pass the logo requirements, as published by the Windows Logo Program, benefit from this feature.
However, if the software that is required to use a smart card in Windows is not logoed or is of a type that differs from a minidriver, such as a PKCS#11 driver, a custom CSP, middleware, or an ActiveX control, the automatic download option fails because Microsoft certifies only smart card minidrivers. Therefore, if the user inserts a card for which a custom CSP is not already registered, the user receives an error message that states that the driver software is missing for the smart card device even though the user can use the smart card through additional software that was installed on the user's computer from a custom installation.
We recommend that card issuers, vendors, and manufacturers implement smart card minidrivers and participate in the Windows Logo Program to benefit from the improvements that are introduced in the platform such as Smart Card Plug and Play, Device Stage for Smart Cards, and so on.
If custom software such a PKCS#11 driver, an ActiveX control, or some other middleware is required to enable the use of smart card on Windows, and implementing a smart card minidriver or a custom CSP is not a practical option, we recommend that card issuers, vendors, or manufacturers consider submitting NULL drivers to Windows Update. The typical process for making sure that a NULL driver is available on Windows Update requires a successful unclassified device submission through Winqual. If in the future, there is a minidriver available for these cards, the new driver can be uploaded to Windows Update by participating in the Windows Logo Program. The NULL drivers can then be manually downloaded by the end users or can made available by using optional updates.
This option is recommended only for enterprise deployments where the computers are managed by administrators and all the necessary software to work with the smart cards that are being used in the enterprise is installed by using software management tools such as SMS.
If your deployment uses only non-Plug and Play smart card solutions, Smart Card Plug and Play can be disabled by a local administrator on a client computer. Disabling Smart Card Plug and Play prevents smart card drivers, also known as smart card minidrivers, from downloading. It also prevents Smart Card Plug and Play prompts.
This is the least-recommended option. You should use this option only if the cards are legacy cards and there are no plans to implement smart card minidrivers in future. This option requires that the existing software that is already installed on the system notify Windows that there is a custom CSP installed on the system even though no such CSP exists on the end-user system. As soon as Windows determines that there is a custom CSP already installed on the system, Wind