Windows 11 | DriverFinder - We Make Drivers Work for You

Vulnerable Windows Drivers Could Allow Device Takeover

In several earlier articles, we have mentioned that drivers are a critical component in any operating system. In Windows kernel-level device drivers are loaded to ensure hardware devices can communicate with the operating system. This high level of access by device drivers is secured by a number of safeguards.

Sucuring vulnerable Windows drivers

Device drivers need to be digitally signed before they are allowed to be installed (even though this can be disabled on some Windows versions). Drivers can also be tested by Microsoft to get the WHQL certification (Windows Hardware Quality Lab). An advantage of WHQL drivers is that they are available through the Windows Update service.

Since the Windows 11 update in 2022, the Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity (HVCI) security feature prevents vulnerable drivers from being installed. It is important to realize that this is based on a list of known vulnerable Windows drivers. So, anything unknown will not be on the list and still get installed.

Recent Analysis Showed 34 Vulnerable Drivers

It is good to know that there are always people looking for vulnerabilities to help prevent abuse of these vulnerabilities. VMWare recently also released their findings on an automated approach to finding vulnerable Windows drivers using a reverse engineering approach. Details are in their blog post, but the results are quite daunting.

Finding that 34 Windows drivers have vulnerabilities is quite a large number. Most (30) are based on the Windows Driver Model (WDM), while some (4) are using the Windows Driver Framework (WDF). Since some of these drivers include firmware access, one can imagine the kind of access and system takeover that can happen with the exploits of these vulnerabilities.

Solutions to Fix Vulnerable Windows Drivers

Since most of these problems need to be fixed by correcting the flaws, or shortcomings, in the device driver software, vendors must update their drivers and release new versions.

This has happened in 2 of the mentioned cases (Phoenix Technologies fixed the TdkLib64.sys driver and AMD fixed the PDFWKRNL.sys driver).

But there are also suggestions that Microsoft could make changes in how drivers are checked and loaded. The vulnerability list (HVCI) does not seem to be sufficient. It is suggested that preventing signed drivers with a revoked certificate would already block a third of the 34 drivers.

From a user perspective, it is important to keep your drivers up-to-date. Apart from using Windows Update, we recommend you use a program like DriverFinder to check for updates regularly.

Fix MediaTek MT7921 Wi-Fi 6 Problem with Windows 11

The MediaTek MT7921 Wi-Fi card from Taiwanese manufacturer MediaTek was introduced in 2021. The wireless card was first used by Asus in their ROG and TUF gaming laptops. The new MediaTek chipset has improved wireless network connectivity, offering better performance and improved battery life.

All great of course, but with Windows 11, there are reports that the MediaTek MT7921 is not working after the June 2022 update of Windows 11. Problems vary from intermittent connectivity, no Wi-Fi device showing at all, and device errors (This device cannot start. (Code 10).

Install the MediaTek MT7921 Driver

The primary cause of such problems is the device driver. So the first thing to try is to uninstall the MediaTek MT7921 device in the Device Manager and reinstall the driver.

To uninstall and reinstall the MediaTek MT7921 driver:

  1. Open the Device Manager from the Start menu.
  2. In the Device Manager, click on Network adapters to expand the category and show the devices.
  3. Next, right-click the WIFI 6 MediaTek MT7921 device, and in the popup menu select Uninstall.

After this you have a few options:

  1. Restart the PC, in which case Windows will reinstall the device (but most likely using the same driver). You can also use the Action menu and select Scan for hardware changes to reinstall the device.
    – or –
  2. Use the MyASUS app (available in the Microsoft Store).
    MyASUS app
    Note: The screenshot is for illustration only, and shows the Intel WLAN Driver instead of the MediaTek MT7921 Driver.

    1. Go to the Customer Support section (1).
    2. Select LiveUpdate. (2)
    3. Select Latest. (3)
    4. Under Networking, locate the wireless driver and click the download icon. (4)
    5. Select a folder to download the driver to and click OK.
    6. Once the download completes, the download icon will change into a folder icon. Click it to open a File Explorer window with the downloaded file.
    7. Click the downloaded driver installer to install the driver.

If the device re-install or the driver update did not fix the problem, you might need to reset the BIOS. This was reported as having worked for a system with BIOS version 310. It is not certain this will work for other versions, but it is a possible solution.

To load the Asus default BIOS settings:

  1. With the system showing the Windows 11 desktop, press the power button and hold it for 20 seconds.
  2. Press and hold the F2 key, and then press the power button again to turn on the computer. This will get you into the BIOS.
  3. Click Default(F9) at the bottom of the screen, or press the F9 key on the keyboard.
  4. Next, click the OK button to confirm.
  5. Click Save & Exit(F10) at the bottom of the screen, or press the F10 key on the keyboard.
  6. And finally, click OK again to confirm saving the changes with the default settings loaded.

Load BIOS default to fix MediaTek MT7921 problem

The computer will reboot and start Windows 11.

Use a third-party driver

In general, is best to use a Microsoft driver or a driver from the computer or hardware manufacturer. But there is a difference in how fast different manufacturers release updated drivers for devices. And in the case of the MediaTek MT7921, the driver from ASUS might not be the latest driver.

If the Windows driver or the ASUS driver do not fix the problems with your MediaTek MT7921 Wi-Fi 6 card, try downloading and installing the Lenovo driver. This might sound weird, but the driver installer is the only real difference. The driver itself is for the exact same MediaTek device.

After the download completes, run the installer, and follow the on-screen instructions to extract and install the driver. If this does not help, you can uninstall it again after, or use a driver rollback to go back to the previous version.

Install a Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

When you use a device that connects to the computer through a serial port, you’ll probably use 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 it 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 communication with serial ports (like RS232) through USB. This allows a modern computer with only USB ports to use legacy equipment with 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).

Prolific chips are also used by other vendors in their cable solutions. The Sabrent USB to serial cable for example is also using the PL2303 chip and hence the same driver.

Serial to USB Type-A cable

Some examples of the types of products that use a serial connection are:

  • Debuggers and programmers
  • Printers, and Scanners
  • Data loggers
  • AV Receivers
  • PLCs
  • Audio equipment (radios, amplifiers, mixers)
  • Sewing and embroidery machines
  • Switches
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

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.

An alternative solution is available from Silicon Labs. Their chips in the CP210x series also offer USB to UART solutions (the CP2102 is often used). For Windows drivers, check their support site. Another popular solution for USB to RS232 is the TrippLite USA19HS or Keyspan USA-19hs.

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 in both cases is 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.

Detect the PL2303 Chip Type

Like with many hardware vendors, not all variations of their products are supported on all platforms. In most cases, updates to hardware are indicated with revision numbers. With chip manufacturers, it is sometimes type indicators.

For Windows, Prolific also specifies which types are no longer supported on Windows 11. So it is important to know which variation of the PL2303 chip is in use on your system. Since it is not always possible to see the chip and read the type number, you can use the Prolific utility to determine the version.

After downloading the ZIP file, open it and run the EXE file inside it (e.g. PL2303_CheckChipVersion_v1006.exe). There is no need to install anything, simply run the chip check program.

PL2303 Version Checker

In the program interface, select the COM port in the drop-down field and then click the Check button to get the details of the PL2303 chip connected to the port.

Download and install the Prolific PL2303 driver in Windows 11

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

Make sure to 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 ( 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 Program window to install the PL2303 driver.

Prolific PL2303 Driver Install

Once 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 this article.

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 software often does not support higher COM-port numbers, but expects 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 Manager.
    Windows 11 start device manager
    Tip: You can also use the Run option. For this, 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.
    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 selection of unassigned port 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 of 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 the new driver version. Examples are the PL2303HXA, PL2303TA, and PL2303X, which will require an older driver version. For Windows 11 compatibility the recommended chip type is PL-2303GC.

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 when 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 .ISO and 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 devmgmt.msc in the Run window. Then 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.
    • Right-click the device, and in the popup menu click Update driver.
      Manually install drivers in Windows 11
  4. In the window that shows next, click the option Browse my computer for drivers.
    Browse my computer for drivers
  5. Next, use the Browse button to select the file location that contains the driver files (as downloaded and extracted earlier).
  6. Once selected, click the Next button.
    Manually install drivers in Windows 11
  7. 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.
  8. Click the Close button to close the window.
  9. Finally, close the Device Manager.

Hopefully with above steps you can find and install the required drivers for Windows 11. This way you can often keep using older hardware, even not directly supported by Windows 11.

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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