Install a Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

When you are using a device that connects to the computer through a serial port, you’ll end up using a USB to serial cable solution. The most common solution for this from Prolific is the PL2303-based solution. In Windows 11 the device would show up in the device manager under the Ports (COM & LPT) category. If it does not or shows an error, you will need to manually install a Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11 to get it to work.

What is Prolific PL 2303?

Prolific is a company that offers a Smart-IO chip that offers a solution for the communication with serial ports (like RS232) through USB. This allows a modern computer with only USB ports to use legacy equipment that uses a serial port. The chipsets from Prolific are the PL23xx and PL25xx chipsets and they are available in different versions for UART, RS232, RS485, I2C, and even IEEE1284 (parallel ports).

Serial to USB Type-A cable

Examples of the type of products a serial connection are:

  • Debuggers and programmers
  • Printers
  • Data loggers
  • AV Receivers
  • PLCs
  • Audio equipment
  • Sewing and embroidery machines
  • Switches

If your PC does not have a serial port, many of these devices can still work with a Windows 11-based computer using a USB-to-serial cable. Since the cables are available for USB Type-A ports as well as USB Type-C ports, a solution is available for most Windows 11-based systems.

What if Windows does not have a Prolific PL2303 driver?

If the driver for the Prolific PL 2303 device is not installed in Windows 11, you can either get an error message like “Please install corresponding PL2303 driver to support Windows 11 and further OS”, or the device will show with an error in the Device Manager (typically with a yellow exclamation mark).

Install PL2303 Driver in Windows 11

Prolific PL2303 Driver Error

The error code for the device will be “The device cannot start (Code 10)”.

The result will be that Windows 11 cannot communicate with the device that is connected through the USB to serial cable and any programs trying to use it will not find the device.

Download and install the Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

To get the latest PL2303 driver, download it from the Prolific website.

Make sure you pick the latest version and take note of the chipsets it supports. If the chipset your cable is using is not included in the Windows 11 version, you can try downloading and installing the previous version for Windows 10.

After downloading the ZIP file (PL23XX_Prolific_DriverInstaller_v402.zip at the time of writing), extract the ZIP file contents, and run the setup program in the subfolder (PL23XX-M_LogoDriver_Setup_402_20220309.exe at the time of writing).

If the User Account Control window shows, click the Yes button to confirm running the installer.

Prolific PL2303 UAC Message

Follow the on-screen instruction in the PL23XX-USB-to-Serial Driver Installer window to install the PL2303 driver.

Prolific PL2303 Driver Install

After the installation is complete, you should see the Prolific device in the Device Manager under Ports without any error. Connect the serial device to your serial-to-USB cable and test the device in Windows 11.

For more details about manually installing drivers in Windows 11, check our article about it.

Changing the COM port

When the PL2303 driver is properly installed, a program might still not detect the device that is connected through the USB-to-Serial cable. The reason in many cases is that the program requires the serial device to be connected to a specific COM-port. Especially older solutions often do not support higher COM-port numbers but expect the device to be connected on COM1 or COM2.

In Windows 11, you can change the COM port number using the Device Manager. Here are the steps:

  1. Right-clicking the Start icon in the Taskbar.
  2. In the menu, click Device Manger.
    Windows 11 start device manager
    Tip: You can also use the Run Press the Windows Key + R, then type “devmgmt.msc” and press the Enter key.
  3. In the Device Manager window, click the Ports (COM & LPT) section to open it and show the ports under it.
    Note: If the Ports section is not shown, clicking Show hidden devices in the View menu might bring it up.
  4. Now right-click the COM port to change, and in the popup menu select Properties.
  5. Select the Port Settings tab.
  6. Click the Advanced button.
  7. Change the COM Port Number to the desired COM port number (it will only allow unassigned numbers).
    Windows 11 change COM port number
  8. Click the OK button to confirm.
  9. Click the OK button on the Properties
  10. Close the Device Manager.

Next, try the program that uses the device on the COM port again. If it does not work immediately, restart Windows first.

Solving Prolific PL2303 serial-to-USB problems

In some cases, installing the driver alone does not solve your problem. As mentioned in the previous section, changing the COM-port can be necessary for a program to find the device connected through the PL2303 cable.

But there are other possible causes to problems with the Prolific PL2303 cables too.

Specific driver version required

For some devices, installing the latest Prolific driver might actually cause the device to stop being recognized or working. This can be the result of the device no longer being supported by a new version.

In the Device Manager, use the Roll Back Driver option on the Prolific device, or use the Update Driver option to manually select a different version.

To prevent Windows from re-installing a new version if the new version is installed through Windows Update, you can disable Windows driver updates. Either disable driver updates altogether, or just prevent the specific update that pertains to the Prolific driver.

Install a Serial port expansion card

This solution is only possible if you have a desktop computer. But if you do, and the Prolific cable based solution is not working for your serial device, consider the option to install a serial port expansion card into the PC.

Once installed, you can connect your serial device directly to a serial port rather than using a serial-to-USB conversion solution.

Prolific PL2303 and FTDI cables

Apart from installing the correct device driver for the PL2303-based cable, it is also important to consider the quality of the cable. Most USB-to-serial cables these days are either Prolific PL2303 based or FTDI based. But even though these are the most common chipsets, there are quality differences in the cables sold online. So, if you are facing problems with a serial device, do consider trying an alternative USB-to-serial cable.

 

Windows 11 – A Quick Look at What’s New

Windows 11. It’s the latest Microsoft OS and its release is expected at the end of 2021 (Microsoft has annouced it will start the release on October the 5th). However, insider builds have been available for some time now.  So as expected, we took a look at the new version to see what is what 😀

What’s New in Windows 11?

A lot of technical improvements have been made to Windows 11. But from a user perspective, the most noticeable features are the following.

1. Rounded Windows corners.

Yes, we are back to that. It’s funny to see that rounded corners are coming back in fashion. From rounded corners, everything changed to a flat and square design. Now things are curvy again with Windows 11. It is very personal, but it’s here whether you like it or not.

2. The Start menu is now in the middle of the screen.

This is similar to what you would find on a Mac. Although this is a hot topic, it’s easy to move it to the left if you want. You just can’t have the Taskbar on the side of the screen anymore.

Perhaps what’s more useful is to focus on the contents of the Start menu. In windows 11, the focus is on quick access. So the Start menu now has a Pinned and Recommended section.

Windows 11 Start Menu

3. You can now load and run Android apps.

Android apps no longer need an emulator in Windows 11, as this latest Microsoft OS allows these apps to run natively in it. This will expand available applications for Windows 11. Apps will be installed through the Amazon Appstore.

4. Widgets are back.

Information on the screen is now displayed as a layover user interface. I rather think this is more suitable for touch devices than for desktop systems. But if you are keen on following information streams (e.g., news, weather, traffic, stocks, etc.) then it can be very useful.

Windows 11 Widgets

5. Improved Windows Subsystem for Linux

The Windows subsystem for Limux (WSL) was already available for Windows 10. But the Windows 11 version is improved and extended. Installation is easier, and both sound and graphics are now also supported.

Installation can be done from an elevated command prompt. Apart from the latest Ubuntu version, other distributions can also be selected (you can even install multiple distributions next to each other).

From a practical perspective you do need to think hard if you need the Linux subsystem. Many Linux solutions are also availabel directly for Windows 11 itself. But if you are already using the existing WSL, then the new Windows 11 version will be a huge improvement.

And yes, there are many more new features and apps. Even audio has been re-designed to ‘sound better’.

In this case, Microsoft has deemed ‘better’ as softer and more pleasing to the ear. But a lot of the changes are targeted at the visual aspects, like fluent animations, better layout, and easy access.

Windows 11 – What’s Gone?

Yes, there are a  lot of new things in Windows 11, but like with earlier Windows versions, some things are gone too.

Internet Explorer, Skype, Paint 3D, Snipping Tool, Cortana, and some other apps are gone. Oh, a lot of them are still there for you to use, but now they come disabled. Others though have been replaced by new apps.

Internet Explorer has been replaced by Edge, and for reasons of privacy and security, it is better to switch at some point to the latter if you are still using IE as your default browser.

Skype will be replaced by Chat Teams, even though Teams does not come pre-installed in Windows 11.

Some personalization settings are now device-specific. If you log onto a different PC with your personal Microsoft account, your personal settings are not used or carried over to the other device.

Tablet mode is gone. Windows 11 will itself adjust to the device and screen capabilities. This makes the tablet mode obsolete.

Windows 11 – What’s Required?

The hardware requirements for Windows 11 are outlined in detail by Microsoft.

A first assessment to see if your device will work with Windows 11 can be made by running the Microsoft PC Health Check app. This can be downloaded from the Microsoft Windows 11 site – soon. Microsoft took it offline due to some issues with the compatibility check 😉

Alternatives to the PC Health Check app are the Checkit app from WiseCleaner and WhyNotWin11 which is an open-source solution. Both will check your PC hardware and indicate the Windows 11 compatibility status for each category.

Apart from the minimal hardware requirements and compatibility, you will need a microphone, speakers, and a webcam for most communication features. A compatible webcam or fingerprint reader will be needed for biometric security.

One of the most critical requirements at the moment is the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). This is a piece of security hardware, which is used for encryption and authentication. For Windows 11 TPM, version 2.0 is required. (A lot of devices are still using TPM version 1.2.)

Perhaps Microsoft will enable Windows 11 for TPM 1.2 systems later, but at the moment this is not the case.

Hardware compatibility with Windows is partially ensured by the right device drivers for your PC hardware devices. Make sure you can benefit from optimal hardware performance and all supported features by installing the right drivers.

DriverFinder will scan your PC for all hardware present and find the correct, and most updated drivers for each device in your system.

Although hardware compatibility can be a limiting factor for many users, you will still need to decide if upgrading to Windows 11 is right for you. Considering how many users are still running Windows 7 and have not upgraded to Windows 10, I am sure quite a few users will not see the new features as a motivation to upgrade immediately.

But if you are about to replace your computer or tablet, then the Windows 11 upgrade might seem an obvious choice. Users of desktop PCs also have the option to upgrade components of their PC to make it compatible with Windows 11.

Update September 2021

As we now know, Microsoft will start the deployment of the Windows 11 release on October the 5th. Like with Windows 10, the update will be offered to Windows 10 users in a phased manner. So be patient if you are waiting for the update.

The Windows 11 update will be free for Windows 10 users.

A thing to consider before upgrading on older systems is the hardware compatibility. Although Microsoft seems to impose stricter hardware compatability enforcement in the Insider Program and Beta Channel, during actual rollout, it might be possible to install Windows 11 on older hardware.

There is no guarantee though that all future Windows 11 (security) updates will be compatible or supported on older platforms. So if you are a happy Windows 10 user on an older system, consider not upgrading. Especially since support for Windows 10 will be around October the 14th of 2025!

Update October 2021

Windows 11 should now be available to everyone. For Windows 10 users the release should come throug Windows Update.

If you are running an older system without TPM 2, you can still install Windows 11 in many cases. Rather than including all details about how to do that, we refer to this link for instructions and details.

Note: when you try to upgrade a system that is not meeting the Windows 11 system requirements, make sure to get installation files from a reputable source. Hackers are preying on people trying to install Windows 11 on systems that do not meet the system requirement by offering installation files that are infected with malware!

 

Microsoft Basic Display Adapter Showing in Windows 10?

Windows 10 shows the display adapter as a Microsoft Basic Display Adapter, if there is no driver for your graphics card installed. In Device Manager, you can see this listed under Display adapters.

Microsoft Basic Display Adapter in Windows 10

The Microsoft Basic Display Adapter is software that ensures your display works with the minimum specs. Basically you will get a working display with it, but resolution, color depth, and refresh rates are  limited. So it’s in your best interest to find the right graphics card driver to achieve maximum video performance, and higher resolutions.

To get full support for your graphics card, the graphics driver specific to your graphics card needs to be installed.

Typically you will see the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter if you have done a fresh install of Windows 10, and no graphics driver update has been installed yet.

But it is also possible that the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter is used because there is no Windows 10 support for your graphics card.

What to do: Run Windows Update

If there is support in Windows 10 for your graphics card, a reboot might be all you need to install the proper driver . But if that is not the case, start by running Windows Update.

Open the Windows Settings from the Start menu, and then click Update & Security.

Windows 10 Update & Security

Windows 10 will start looking for updates and should automatically download and install any updates found.

If not, click the Check for updates button to initiate the Windows Update process.

By default, Windows 10 includes driver updates for supported devices. So if your graphics card is supported, the correct driver will be found and installed.

In needs to be mentioned that updates can also cause things to fail. So if the graphics driver was recently updated, try doing a driver rollback in the Device Manager to fix the issue.

What to do: Manually Update the Graphics Driver

If Windows Update does not find a driver, you can manually download the driver for it. Visit the manufacturer support site for your computer and look up support for the computer model. Then download the graphics or display driver from the support site.

In most cases the driver will come in the form on an executable installer that will install the graphics driver.

If not, open Device Manager, right-click the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter, and in the popup menu select Update Driver.

Windows 10 Update Driver

Next, click Browse my computer for drivers, and then use the Browse option to locate the downloaded graphics driver files. Note that the driver files might need to be unzipped first.

Then click Next and wait for Windows 10 to finish installing the graphics driver.

Troubleshooting Microsoft Basic Display Adapter: What if you can’t find the driver you need for your computer or graphics card?

If Windows 10 doesn’t find the right driver and the manufacturer doesn’t provide the driver you need, you can try DriverFinder.

DriverFinder scans your computer hardware and automatically finds updated drivers – including graphics drivers – for your specific Windows version. You can easily download and install the recommended driver.

DriverFinder has a huge database of drivers so it’s not limited to the Windows Update catalog or a single manufacturer site. This means there’s a big chance you’ll find the exact driver you need.

Is ‘Incompatible Hardware’ the Reason Why the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter Is Showing?

One of the reasons the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter is showing, instead of your actual graphics card, is if there’s hardware incompatibility in Windows 10.

That basically means there is no compatible driver for the graphics card for Windows 10. The hardware is not supported by Microsoft for Windows 10.

The options you have here depend on your computer (or device).

  • For tablets, there is not much you can do other than downgrade to a compatible version of Windows.
  • For notebooks, or laptops, you can also downgrade to a compatible Windows version. But in many cases, modern laptops have two (2) video cards installed: an external, more powerful graphics card, and an on-chip, basic video card.The Intel integrated graphics device is often used. Try enabling or disabling one of the two cards in the system BIOS, to make sure Windows can properly recognize and install the graphics driver for it.
  • For desktops, the same options are available as for laptops, but there is one more option: replace the graphics card. The graphics card might not be working anymore, or it’s too old to be supported in Windows 10. Replacing it with a modern graphics card will allow Windows 10 to install the correct driver.

Hopefully these tips fix the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter problem. Once the right driver is installed, video performance should be better, higher resolutions will be possible and multiple monitors will be supported.

News: Microsoft Restricts Windows 7 Driver Updates

Last week, on June 17, 2021, Microsoft has stopped accepting driver submissions for Windows Update for Windows 7 SP1 (and Windows Server 2008). As a result, there will be no more new Windows 7 drivers released through Microsoft Windows Update for your Windows 7 laptop or PC.

Of course, Microsoft already discontinued support for Windows 7 last year, in January 2020. So now the driver updates have also stopped.

The main reason for this step is security. Microsoft was using a Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-1 ) trusted root certificate to allow signed drivers to be submitted for Windows Update. The SHA-1 algorithm, however, has become less secure and has been superseded by SHA-2. Microsoft has expired the SHA-1 trusted root certificate authority and will only allow SHA-2 signed drivers into Windows Update.

The switch from SHA-1 to SHA-2 was effective from May 9, 2021. All SHA-1 signed content is removed from the Microsoft Download Center.

Windows 7 Driver Updates

What is the Impact on You?

If you have a Windows 7 PC, you will no longer receive driver updates via Windows Update.

It also means that if you reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 7, you might not be able to get all the necessary drivers you need automatically.

Manufacturers can still submit drivers for Windows 7 and Windows 2008 through the Windows Hardware Compatibility Program for now, but these will only be available to customers that use Volume Licensing and participate in the Extended Security Program.

Manually locating and manually installing drivers in Windows 7 remains possible though.

[More details on this Microsoft change can be found here.]

Windows 7 Driver Update Alternative

If manually searching, downloading, and installing drivers is not your thing… you can always use DriverFinder to help you.

The DriverFinder database contains ‘legacy drivers’.

Legacy drivers are drivers that are ‘older’ than the latest Windows OS version. Since we’re now on Windows 10, Windows 7 drivers can be considered legacy drivers.

By the way, drivers in the DriverFinder database are sourced DIRECTLY from hardware manufactures so rest assured that the right Windows 7 driver update is recommended.

Here’s how you can still have Windows 7 driver updates via DriverFinder (no manual searching!).

  1. Download the DriverFinder program.
  2. Get a license and Activate the program.
  3. Run a Driver Scan.
  4. Download the Windows 7 driver recommendations from the scan results.
    Download Synaptics Touchpad driver using DriverFinder
  5. Run the driver installer(s) provided to install the driver.

How to Open the Control Panel in Windows 10

Many Windows 10 settings are configured through the Control Panel. The Device Manager for example, which is used for driver settings, is accessed through this panel. As such, it’s important to know how to open the Control Panel in Windows 10.

In Windows 7 and 8.1, opening the Control Panel was easy. All you had to do was click or right-click the Windows Start button. However, in Windows 10, this is no longer the case.

Open the Control Panel Using the Search Box

This is generally the preferred, and easiest way to open the Control Panel. Simply type “control panel” in the search box on the Taskbar.

In the Search results screen, you can click the Control Panel App under best match (1), or click the Control Panel icon in the right-hand window (2).

Open the Control Panel

Open the Control Panel from the Taskbar

If you want even easier access to the Control Panel in Windows 10, you should ‘pin’ it it to the Taskbar, thereby creating a shortcut.

  1. Follow the steps above to open then Control Panel.
  2. On the Taskbar, right-click the Control Panel icon.
  3. In the popup windows that opens, click Pin to taskbar.

Pin control panel to taskbar

After this, the Control Panel icon will permanently show on the Taskbar. So even when you close the Control Panel, you can quickly open it again by clicking the icon on the Taskbar!

Why Use the Control Panel?

Since it seems that Microsoft has made it a bit more difficult to open the Control Panel, you would expect that it is not needed that much. Not true!

For example, for device driver related actions (e.g., driver updates, troubleshooting, driver roll-backs, etc.) the Device Manager is needed.

To get to the Device Manager, you need to open the Control Panel. From there, select the Hardware and Sound option, and then click the Device Manager option.

Another common task performed via the Control Panel is program uninstalls.

Many applications create a Program Group in the Start menu, where they normally put a link to an uninstall option. But if that is not available, then the easiest method to uninstall a program is the Uninstall a program feature in the Control Panel.

 

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