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.

 

How to Manually Install Drivers in Windows 11

With each new version of Windows, more devices are automatically supported. This is also the case for Windows 11. But if your device is not supported, or not automatically installed,  you may need to manually install drivers.

The need to manually install drivers in Windows 11 can also come up when a non-supported device needs to be installed. If hardware is not compatible with Windows 11, but there are drivers for the hardware for previous Windows versions, these older drivers can often be used.

For Windows 11, Windows 10 drivers are almost always compatible. But even Windows 8 or Windows 7 drivers can often be used. Just make sure the right architecture is supported. For Windows 11 all drivers need to be 64-bit since that is the only Windows 11 version available.

Steps to manually install drivers in Windows 11

First, make sure you have the driver file available on your Windows 11 system. Download it from the hardware manufacturer’s website. If possible, use the installer that came with the driver. If that does not work, the manual install process is required.

  1. Make the driver files available in the installable format. That means you need to see files with a .SYS, .CAB, and .INF file extension. File extensions can be made visible in the File Explorer by clicking the View menu, followed by clicking Show in the dropdown menu, and finally selecting File name extensions.
    Windows-11 Show File ExtensionsDepending on the file format of the downloaded drivers, the driver files need to be extracted. For archived files, Windows 11 offers direct support. But other formats might need a separate program to extract them. (.7Z file extension – 7-Zip; .RAR file extension – WinRAR).
    I would recommend installing the 7-Zip program, as it actually supports many archive and compression formats. Even some .EXE files can be extracted with it.
  2. Once the driver files are available, open the Device Manager. Press the Windows + R keys, and type msc in the Run window. Press Enter or click OK.
    Windows-11 Start Device Manager
  3. In the Device Manager, select the device for which you need to install the driver.
  4. Right-click the device, and in the popup menu click Update driver.
    Windows-11 Update Driver
  5. In the window that shows next, click the option Brose my computer for drivers.
    Browse my computer for drivers
  6. Next, use the Browse button to select the file location that contains the driver files (as downloaded and extracted earlier).
  7. Once selected, click the Next button.
    Manually install drivers in Windows 11
  8. Windows will analyze the driver files and match them with the selected device. If the drivers are compatible with the device, the drivers will be installed and the device should work after this.
  9. Click the Close button to close the window.
  10. Finally, close the Device Manager.

As always, if you have trouble finding support for your hardware in Windows, try using our DriverFinder software to automatically analyze the hardware devices and look for available and compatible drivers.

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!

 

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