Tag: Smart Card

Windows 10 upgrade breaks at 76% and present the logon screen while upgrade is still in progress in the background!

This problem is interesting as it is not easily discoverable if you do not stare at the screen during the entire upgrade process, and hey, who does that? However, this is a very interesting finding when it comes to Windows as a Service that I am certain will affect many more enterprise customers (see cause section below).


Initiate an upgrade of Windows 10 to another version of Windows 10 using an inplace-upgrade task sequence via System Center Configuration Manager. The upgrade runs smooth until it reaches 75% (of the Upgrade step) where setup reboots the machine and then continue the last step of the upgrade, which is the migration phase. However, at 76% the user is presented with the login screen and the user thinks “well, the upgrade is done, let’s login!” after which the user login only to see a reboot a few minutes later, and also a rollback to the previous version of Windows.

The upgrade process is still running although the logon screen is presented, and when the user login, the migration engine of Windows setup shows a bunch of MIG errors due to files becoming locked. At the same time a rollback to the previous version of Windows 10 is initiated. The rollback by the way works very well! 


The cause of this issue is the software Net iD, which is a very common smart card application/credential provider for governments and others, providing smart card logon capabilities for all types of smart cards. When that piece of software is installed it somehow (still not determined exactly what is going on) interfere with the upgrade and the consequence is that the login screen is displayed although the upgrade continue in the background.


Uninstall the Net iD client before doing inplace-upgrade to another Windows 10 version, and then install it as one of the last steps during the upgrade.

Smart card removal does not lock the machine in Windows 10 nor previous Windows versions

Anyone who has worked with smart card and Windows clients have probably seen that on rare occasions users can pull their smart card from the smart card reader and the machine will not be locked although it should be locked instantly. As this typically only occur very rarely it is extremely hard to troubleshoot. However, things are coming together with a cause that makes sense and also shed some light on this elusive problem.


A smart card is enforced to be used to login to machines in Windows 7 or Windows 10. GPO settings declare that when the smart card is removed from the smart card reader, the machine will be locked.


When the user removes the smart card from the smart card reader, the machine is not locked (rarely). Most of the times the machine is locked but occasionally the machine is not locked and the user can continue to work inside Windows with the card in their hands.


The Smart Card Removal Policy service has been restarted and when it restarts, the session to keep control over when the smart card is pulled from the card reader is lost and therefore the machine is not locked. The cause of Smart Card Removal Policy service being restarted is when new Windows patches are released and installed on the machines, specifically many of the latest Cumulative Updates for Windows 10 causes the problem. The issue is more rarely seen in Windows 7, likely due to the changes in updating/patching strategy in Windows 7 vs Windows 10 which differs quite a lot.


None by Microsoft as this is by design (bad design I might add). A solution is to use a third party smart card tool that provides its own service to lock the machines.

Additional notes

The restart of this service does not trigger any events in the Event Viewer so we cannot trigger on anything. By design the machine should be locked whenever the Smart Card Removal Policy service is restarted but that does not happen. Could there be problems with that design? Probably, otherwise I suppose it would work that way already Microsoft!? :)