Smart Card minidrivers are implemented according to the Windows Smart Card Minidriver Specification. The specifications prescribe the version and related capabilities to which a minidriver will conform.

The smart card minidriver provides a simpler alternative to developing a legacy cryptographic service provider (CSP) by encapsulating most of the complex cryptographic operations from the card minidriver developer.

Beginning with Windows Vista, applications can use the Microsoft Cryptography API: Next Generation (CNG) for smart card–based cryptographic services. As part of the elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) effort that was introduced in Windows Vista, ECC smart cards are supported in the new cryptographic framework. Applications and interfaces that interact with existing Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) card minidrivers through the legacy CAPI subsystem continue to work without modification.

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