About Smart Card

The basic components of the smart card subsystem are based on PC/SC standards. These basic components include:

  • A resource manager that uses a Win32® application programming interface (API).
  • A user interface (UI) that works with the resource manager.
  • Several base service providers that provide access to specific services. In contrast to the resource manager’s Win32® API, service providers use a COM interface model to provide smart card services.

The following illustration shows the relationships of these components in the overall smart card architecture.

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Topics Contents
Smart Card Concepts Basic concepts describing the interaction between users and smart cards.
Smart Card Resource Manager The resource manager API, which manages the access to readers and to smart cards.
Smart Card User Interface The smart card common dialog.
Smart Card Service Providers Interfaces, commands, and wrappers that provide smart card capabilities.


Smart Card Concepts

This section covers some basic concepts that may be used when describing the interaction between users (and applications) and smart cards. These concepts include terms, as well as a discussion of two basic interactions between users and smart cards. However, this section does not attempt to describe all possible ways a user might interact with a smart card.

Readers and reader groups SMART CARD Readers
Smart cards and their COM interfaces Smart Card Interfaces
Exposing card services to different programming environments Primary Service Provider
Smart card setup utilities and the information they must supply Introducing Smart Cards to the System
How an application or service provider connects to a smart card Accessing a Smart Card
How other parts of the Microsoft Internet Security Framework use Smart Card Relation to Other Services

Smart Card Readers

Readers are standard devices in a smart card system. They are controlled through drivers, and are introduced to and removed from the system through Plug and Play or through the control panel Devices applet.

Each reader must be defined for use by the smart card subsystem. The subsystem is not responsible for any reader not specifically given to it.

reader Smart card readers can be divided into logical groups called groups. These groups can be defined by the subsystem, as well as defined by administrators and users. A reader can belong to more than one reader group

The smart card subsystem defines the following groups.


This group contains all the readers in the system. A new reader given to the smart card subsystem is automatically included in the system-wide reader group, SCard$AllReaders.


This default group, one for each terminal, contains all the readers assigned to the terminal that are not reserved for specific use.