Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prolific 2303HXA/XA This device cannot start. (Code 10)

Because of widespread pirating of its products, Prolific made the decision to declare the end-of-life for several variants of the PL2303 USB-to-Serial chips (HXA/XA).  These pirated devices found their way into inexpensive Chinese products as well as products of legitimate manufacturers worldwide.  After the distribution channels were flooded with the counterfeit devices it became impossible to separate the real from the pirate.  To enforce this end-of-life, which should actually be called effort-to-end-piracy, Prolific released new drivers for Windows.  These updated drivers retrieve the chip identification and refuse to support any of the targeted (HXA/XA) variants.
Did your hardware stop working after you ran Windows Update?  This problem is exacerbated by the auto-download via Windows Update for Windows 7/8/8.1/Server2008R2/2012/2012R2.
It is very easy to determine if the installed driver is the reason that your USB-to-Serial interface does not work. In Windows 7 right click on My Computer and launch Device Manager, or launch Device Manager from Control Panel in Windows 8.  (Microsoft has made these instructions more difficult by continuously moving access to Device Manager!)  In Device Manager, click to expand the list Ports (COM & LPT).
If your problematic USB-to-Serial device is connected, you should see an entry for Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COMn) where n is the number assigned to this port by the operating system.  If indeed the driver is the problem, you will see a small yellow triangle to the left of this entry.  Double-click on this item to view its properties and the message “This device cannot start. (Code 10)” will appear in the Device Status text box.
The end-of-life lockout was implemented in Prolific drivers for Windows 8 in version 3.3 and later.  The block does not exist in version 3.2 and earlier.  So all we have to do is re-install an earlier driver and instruct Windows to use this driver for our misbehaving device.  Remember that Windows Update will replace this driver with the newer version.  You will occasionally find it necessary to repeat the fix.
Windows allows you to have multiple drivers installed simultaneously for the same hardware.  When you connect a plug and play device, the operating system searches the list and selects the one it thinks best.  The first step in the fix is ensuring that an earlier version of the Prolific driver without the end-of-life block is available in the operating system.  Search your archives (local computer, CD’s, diskettes) and retrieve the older driver for your product.
For Windows XP locate the executable install program PL2303_Prolific_GPS_AllInOne_1013.exe.
For Vista or Windows 7, 32-bit locate and unpack the file
For Vista or Windows 7, 64-bit locate the executable install program Win7Vista_64bit_ProlificUSB_v3200.exe.
DO NOT download the driver from the Prolific website! (  The version they display is that of the INSTALLER, not the actual driver.  While there, read the Chinglish warnings about using the HXA/XA parts and the prohibition on distributing drivers.  If you are satisfied that you have a right to use the device you purchased in good faith, continue.  If not, stop here.

Verify that your USB-to-Serial cable (or device) is NOT connected.  Perform the driver installation for your operating system.  Remember, this install will make the driver available but will not associate it with any specific hardware.
Insert your cable but DO NOT ALLOW THE OPERATING SYSTEM TO DOWNLOAD a driver from the internet!

Now you must associate this driver with your hardware.
Here are the step-by-step instructions.
Open Device Manager in the manner required for your version of Windows.  Locate Ports (COM & LPT) and expand it by clicking.

The serial and parallel interfaces installed will be displayed.  The non-performing device(s) will be displayed with a warning triangle!

Double click on the device to open the Properties window.  Windows will display the root cause of the problem in the Device Status text box.  In our case, the driver refuses to initialize the USB-to-Serial device because it is beyond end-of-life.

Click the Driver tab.  Then click the Update Driver button.

This window provides options for searching for new driver.  You do NOT want to do it automatically!  Click Browse my computer for driver software.

At this point you can choose to associate a driver that is already installed (as shown in the text box) or you can choose to install a driver that you have saved on the computer.  If you need to install the driver, click the Have Disk button and browse to the install file.  If you installed the driver as suggested above, the text box will show that driver as well as all other installed drivers that might work with your hardware.  In this example there are two.  Click and select the entry for v3.2.0.0 which is pre-EOL driver for Windows 8.  Click Next.

After the driver has successfully been associated with your device, the Device Manager view will look like this.

Enjoy your USB-to-Serial device!