Quickstart: Sharing user certificates between Windows Store apps
Language: HTML | XAML

Quickstart: Sharing user certificates between Windows Store apps (XAML)

[This article is for Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 8.x developers writing Windows Runtime apps. If you’re developing for Windows 10, see the latest documentation]

Certificate authentication provides a high level of trust when authenticating a user. Windows Store apps that require secure authentication beyond a userid and password combination can use certificates for authentication. In some cases, a group of services will want to authenticate a user for multiple Windows Store apps . This quickstart shows how you can authenticate multiple Windows Store apps using the same certificate, and how you can provide convenient code for a user to import a certificate that was provided to access secured web services.

Windows Store apps can authenticate to a web service using a certificate, and multiple Windows Store apps can use a single certificate from the certificate store to authenticate the same user. If a certificate does not exist in the store, you can add code to your app to import a certificate from a PFX file.

Objective: Authenticate a user by using a certificate in a way that allows it to be used by multiple Windows Store apps for multiple secured web services.


This quickstart is for sample purposes only and will use the Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) on your local machine. To run this quickstart, you will need the following:

  • Windows 8.1
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS)


1. Enable IIS and client certificate mapping

IIS is not enabled by default. You can enable IIS by using the Windows Control Panel.

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel and select Programs.
  2. Select Turn Windows features on or off.
  3. Expand Internet Information Services and then expand World Wide Web Services. Expand Application Development Features and select ASP.NET 3.5 and ASP.NET 4.5. Making these selections will automatically enable Internet Information Services.
  4. Click OK to apply the changes.

2. Create and publish a secured web service

In this step, you will create a secured web service and publish it to your IIS server.

  1. Run Microsoft Visual Studio as administrator and select New Project from the start page. Administrator access is required to publish a web service to an IIS server. In the New Project dialog, change the framework to .NET Framework 3.5. Select Visual C# -> Web -> Visual Studio -> ASP.NET Web Service Application. Name the application "FirstContosoBank". Click OK to create the project.
  2. In the Service1.asmx.cs file, replace the default HelloWorld web method with the following "Login" method.
            public string Login()
                // Verify certificate with CA
                var cert = new System.Security.Cryptography.X509Certificates.X509Certificate2(
                bool test = cert.Verify();
                return test.ToString();
  3. Save the Service1.asmx.cs file.
  4. In the Solution Explorer, right-click the "FirstContosoBank" app and select Publish.
  5. In the Publish Web dialog, create a new profile and name it "ContosoProfile". Click Next.
  6. On the next page, enter the server name for your IIS server, and specify a site name of "Default Web Site/FirstContosoBank". Click Publish to publish your web service.

3. Configure your web service to use client certificate authentication

In this step, you will use the IIS manager to configure the web service that you just published to require a client certificate.

  1. Run the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.
  2. Expand the sites for your IIS server. Under the Default Web Site, select the new "FirstContosoBank" web service. In the Actions section, select Advanced Settings....
  3. Set the Application Pool to .NET v2.0 and click OK.
  4. In the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, select your IIS server and then double-click Server Certificates. In the Actions section, select Create Self-Signed Certificate.... Enter "ContosoBank" as the friendly name for the certificate and click OK. This will create a new certificate for use by the IIS server in the form of "<server-name>.<domain-name>".
  5. In the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, select the default web site. In the Actions section, select Binding and then click Add.... Select "https" as the type, set the port to "443", and enter the full host name for your IIS server ("<server-name>.<domain-name>"). Set the SSL certificate to "ContosoBank". Click OK. Click Close in the Site Bindings window.
  6. In the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, select the "FirstContosoBank" web service. Double-click SSL Settings. Check Require SSL. Under Client certificates, select Require. In the Actions section, click Apply.
  7. You can verify that the web service is configured correctly by opening your web browser and entering the following web address: "https://<server-name>.<domain-name>/FirstContosoBank/Service1.asmx". For example, "https://myserver.example.com/FirstContosoBank/Service1.asmx". If your web service is configured correctly, you will be prompted to select a client certificate in order to access the web service.

You can repeat the previous steps to create multiple web services that can be accessed using the same client certificate.

4. Create a Windows Store app that uses certificate authentication

Now that you have one or more secured web services, you can create Windows Store apps that use certificates to authenticate to those web services. When you make a request to an authenticated web service using the HttpClient object, the initial request will not contain a client certificate. The authenticated web service will respond with a request for client authentication. When this occurs, the Windows client will automatically query the certificate store for available client certificates. Your user can select from these certificates to authenticate to the web service. Some certificates are password protected, so you will need to provide the user with a way to input the password for a certificate.

If there are no client certificates available, then the user will need to add a certificate to the certificate store. You can include code in your Windows Store app that enables a user to select a PFX file that contains a client certificate and then import that certificate into the client certificate store.

Tip  You can use makecert.exe to create a PFX file to use with this quickstart. For information on using makecert.exe, see MakeCert.
  1. Open Visual Studio and select New Project from the start page. Select Visual C# -> Windows Store -> Blank App (XAML). Name the new project "FirstContosoBankApp". Click OK to create the new project.
  2. In the MainPage.xaml file, add the following XAML to the default Grid element. This XAML includes a button to browse for a PFX file to import, a text box to enter a password for a password-protected PFX file, a button to import a selected PFX file, a button to log in to the secured web service, and a text block to display the status of the current action.
    <Button x:Name="Import" Content="Import Certificate (PFX file)" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="352,305,0,0" VerticalAlignment="Top" Height="77" Width="260" Click="Import_Click" FontSize="16"/>
    <Button x:Name="Login" Content="Login" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="611,305,0,0" VerticalAlignment="Top" Height="75" Width="240" Click="Login_Click" FontSize="16"/>
    <TextBlock x:Name="Result" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="355,398,0,0" TextWrapping="Wrap" VerticalAlignment="Top" Height="153" Width="560"/>
    <PasswordBox x:Name="PfxPassword" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="483,271,0,0" VerticalAlignment="Top" Width="229"/>
    <TextBlock HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="355,271,0,0" TextWrapping="Wrap" Text="PFX password" VerticalAlignment="Top" FontSize="18" Height="32" Width="123"/>
    <Button x:Name="Browse" Content="Browse for PFX file" HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="352,189,0,0" VerticalAlignment="Top" Click="Browse_Click" Width="499" Height="68" FontSize="16"/>
    <TextBlock HorizontalAlignment="Left" Margin="717,271,0,0" TextWrapping="Wrap" Text="(Optional)" VerticalAlignment="Top" Height="32" Width="83" FontSize="16"/>
  3. Save the MainPage.xaml file.
  4. In the MainPage.xaml.cs file, add the following using statements.
    using Windows.Web.Http;
    using System.Text;
    using Windows.Security.Cryptography.Certificates;
    using Windows.Storage.Pickers;
    using Windows.Storage;
    using Windows.Storage.Streams;
  5. In the MainPage.xaml.cs file, add the following variables to the MainPage class. They specify the address for the secured "Login" method of your "FirstContosoBank" web service, and a global variable that holds a PFX certificate to import into the certificate store. Update the <server-name> to the fully-qualified server name for your IIS server.
    private Uri requestUri = new Uri("https://<server-name>/FirstContosoBank/Service1.asmx?op=Login");
    private string pfxCert = null;
  6. In the MainPage.xaml.cs file, add the following click handler for the login button and method to access the secured web service.
    private void Login_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
    private async void MakeHttpsCall()
        StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder("Login ");
        HttpResponseMessage response;
            Windows.Web.Http.HttpClient httpClient = new Windows.Web.Http.HttpClient();
            response = await httpClient.GetAsync(requestUri);
            if (response.StatusCode == HttpStatusCode.Ok)
                result = result.Append("failed with ");
                result = result.Append(response.StatusCode);
        catch (Exception ex)
            result = result.Append("failed with ");
            result = result.Append(ex.Message);
        Result.Text = result.ToString();
  7. In the MainPage.xaml.cs file, add the following click handlers for the button to browse for a PFX file and the button to import a selected PFX file into the certificate store.
    private async void Import_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
            Result.Text = "Importing selected certificate into user certificate store....";
            await CertificateEnrollmentManager.UserCertificateEnrollmentManager.ImportPfxDataAsync(
                "Import Pfx");
            Result.Text = "Certificate import succeded";
        catch (Exception ex)
            Result.Text = "Certificate import failed with " + ex.Message;
    private async void Browse_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
        StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder("Pfx file selection ");
        FileOpenPicker pfxFilePicker = new FileOpenPicker();
        pfxFilePicker.CommitButtonText = "Open";
            StorageFile pfxFile = await pfxFilePicker.PickSingleFileAsync();
            if (pfxFile != null)
                IBuffer buffer = await FileIO.ReadBufferAsync(pfxFile);
                using (DataReader dataReader = DataReader.FromBuffer(buffer))
                    byte[] bytes = new byte[buffer.Length];
                    pfxCert = System.Convert.ToBase64String(bytes);
                    PfxPassword.Password = string.Empty;
        catch (Exception ex)
            result.Append("failed with ");
            result.Append(ex.Message); ;
        Result.Text = result.ToString();
  8. Save the MainPage.xaml.cs file.
  9. You can now press F5 to run your Windows Store app and log in to your secured web service as well as import a PFX file into the local certificate store.

You can use these steps to create multiple Windows Store apps apps that use the same user certificate to access the same or different secured web services.


In this quickstart, you learned how to create a web service that is secured using client certificates, and how to create a Windows Store app that can access that secured web service.

Related topics

Authentication and User Identity



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