Q. I'm trying to access my smart card in Windows Virtual PC but my VPN software says the card can't be read correctly. How can I make it work?

A. Windows Virtual PC has integration features that allow certain types of devices to be shared between the host computer and the virtual machine (VM), including audio devices, clipboard, printers, drives, and smart cards. However, when you share devices, the device is typically virtualized over the Remote Desktop Protocol. The VM will see a generic smart card and won't function correctly. Because the smart card is shared, you can't directly map the smart card into the VM using the USB attach menu, as shown here.

VM Smart Card

The solution is to temporarily turn off the integration features. Attach the USB smart card reader, ensure the right drivers are installed and that it functions, detach the device, then enable the integration features again. The smart card should now function using standard smart card sharing. Below are more detailed steps.

  1. Disable integration features.
  2. VM Smart Card

  3. You'll need to log on again. Now, in the USB menu, attach the smart card device and click Continue when you get the warning message that it will remove the device from the host computer.
  4. VM Smart Card

  5. Test your VPN or other software after installing the necessary drivers. The smart card should now be functioning correctly.
  6. Release the USB smart card from the VM using the USB menu.
  7. VM Smart Card

Enable the integration features again and the smart card should be available and working, because you have the right drivers in the VM.

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