PC/SC Workgroup Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What's the current status of the PC/SC Specifications?
A: The Workgroup released the PC/SC Specifications 1.0 in 1997, and will continue to release new versions as the Specifications are refined and expanded. The current version is PC/SC Specifications 2.01.09.
Q: Who is driving the PC/SC content and future development?
A: The PC/SC Workgroup Members decide what areas will be focused on in the continuing work effort. Broad-based industry input, both from within the membership and outside of the membership, is a valuable part of this process.
Q: What is the PC/SC Workgroup currently working on?
A: See the Specifications Update in the Specifications pages, to see what the Workgroup's technical committees are currently focusing on.
Q: What additions to the Specification does Version 2.0 address?
A: PC/SC Specifications 2.0 introduces support for the following capabilities: updated card recognition, dynamic service provider assignment, enhanced smart card reader support and support for contactless and synchronous cards.
Q: Why were these elements considered for Version 2.0?
A: As multi-application smart cards emerge, there is a need to dynamically manage off-card components that interact with on-card applications. Also, as new extended reader technologies that provide support for pinpads, displays, multi-slots and biometrics become available, enhancements to the Specifications will enable interoperability between cards and PC applications that utilize these extended capabilities. Finally, contactless cards are growing in acceptance and usage, and there are also a variety of synchronous cards that are being utilized by applications. The Specifications is adding enhancements to allow the same look and feel as that provided by asynchronous cards, at the PC application level.
Q: How do I implement the Specifications?
A: Implementation Steps are provided on the Specifications pages, to assist developers with implementing the Specifications.
Q: Can I join the PC/SC Workgroup?
A: Yes. A wide membership throughout the industry enables Workgroup standards decisions to be more informed and broad-based. As a member, you can influence Workgroup standards decisions and contribute to the Workgroup's work process. See the Membership Overview in the Membership pages, for more details.
Q: How can my company get PC/SC approval for our products?
A: Microsoft currently has the only approval program - for Windows operating platforms - which certifies that products are PC/SC compatible. This process is described in the Implementation Steps in the Specifications pages.
Q: Is there a listing of currently compatible PC/SC products?
A: Yes. See the Compatible Products section of the PC/SC Workgroup website.
Q: How is the PC/SC Workgroup related to Microsoft and Windows*?
A: The PC/SC Workgroup is completely independent of Microsoft operating systems, and the PC/SC specifications can be implemented in various operating systems. Microsoft has implemented the PC/SC stack on Windows operating systems, but this is only one possible implementation.
Q: Is PC/SC support built into Windows 2000?
A: Yes, PC/SC Version 1.0 support is provided as part of the Windows operating system, and is implemented on Win9x and Win NT 4.0. Additional information can be found in Microsoft Platform DDK and SDK.
Q: When does Microsoft anticipate having support for the 2.0 Specifications?
A: The Workgroup, including Microsoft, continues to work on the 2.0 Specifications with regard to the OS. A timeframe has not been announced currently.
Q: Is there any current work involved with porting the PC/SC stack to a Linux environment?
A: The Workgroup is not active in developing a Linux port of the PC/SC stack, however David Corcoran of Purdue University has been working on such as port relative to the released 1.0 Specification, independent of the Workgroup. His findings will be discussed as part of a CardTech/SecurTech session in May 2000.
Q: What is the relation between PC/SC and the OpenCard Framework (OCF)?
A: PC/SC and OCF have a different platform environment scope, since OCF is only Java-based. They do have, however, very similar concepts. Within the Windows environment, OCF can benefit from the PC/SC smart card reader drivers, by using the PC/SC Resource Manager. A PC/SC card terminal that takes advantage of the PC/SC Resource Manager already exists for the OCF.
Q: Are there any plans to adopt the PKCS #11 standard within the PC/SC Specification?
Are there any problems with the coexistence of both standards on the same platform?
A: The PC/SC Workgroup has no plan to adopt the PKCS #11 standard. The CSP, as defined in the PC/SC Specification, should really be considered as an example of a Crypto Service Provider. However, in the Microsoft Crypto environment, the Microsoft CSP definition must then be followed as defined in the Microsoft platform SDK.
In an environment where the PKCS#11 module has to coexist with a Microsoft CSP, both smart card based, each developer should architect the CSP and the PKCS #11 modules the best that they can, and the implementation of one module can benefit the functions already implemented in the other one. This is quite independent of PC/SC, and the modules can use both with PC/SC to interface the card. The only point to be careful with when using the PKCS #11 and CSP modules at the same time is about the shared resources. Many developers have however, used this solution with success.
Q: Does the PC/SC Specification work with memory cards?
A: The current PC/SC Specification 1.0 does not support memory cards. From a technical point of view, only some readers can support memory cards. Some reader manufacturers might support memory cards in a proprietary way. The PC/SC Workgroup is investigating how to support memory cards in a standard way, but this will not be a mandatory feature for all PC/SC readers. A PC/SC member company recently asked for consent to use ATR-like data to identify memory cards, and the Workgroup had no objection to this approach.
Q: How can my company get support from the PC/SC Workgroup?
A: If you don't find the information you're looking for in this website, Contact PC/SC. In our efforts to promote a broad applicable standard, we value input from all interested parties.
Note however, that the PC/SC Workgroup cannot give any information or help about driver development, driver/reader installation and application development for a given platform such as the Windows platforms. This type of information is really platform dependent and therefore independent of PC/SC. We rather advise you to contact the reader manufacturer, card provider or OS provider.
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