Fake USB to serial converters – bricked by Windows update.

Serial ports have been phased out of computers for the past few years now.
Its almost imposible to get a laptop with a serial port.
But for a lot of small (ie, cheap) electronic devices, serial is still king.
What to do?

Enter the USB to Serial adaptor.
Cheap, fast and easy to use.
Its almost a plug and play solution.

Trouble is greed.
People started reverse engineering the chip that is used in them and selling the fake chip for less money than the original.

FTDI, the company that makes the real deal has finally (after years of this going on) had enough and the latest Windows update includes a bit of code that will render the fake chips totally useless.
Yup, thats right. Rather than warn customers or go after the fake chip makers, FTDI has convinced Microsoft to include the bit of magic code that will kill the fake chips while leaving their real chips working as usual.

This is going to cause major drama the world over.
Tens of thousands of these fake chips have been sold, perhaps even hundreds of thousands…. Most people will not even know if they have brought a real one or a fake one….. After the update, they will know, but only via a whole lot of frustration and wasted time.
I can see the adaptor dieing, people buying another (fake) and it not working from ‘new’, so its going to get really ugly really quick.

The really sad thing is that the update totally kills the new chip, not just kills it on Windows PC’s, but actually kills the fake chip so it will never work again, on any OS or any computer.

Of course if you are using the fake chip on a Linux system, its all good.
Just dont plug it into a Windows PC.

I wonder if we are going to see more of this sort of thing in the future….