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Does the Windows FTDI Update “Brick” your Arduino?

The story going around is Microsoft has destroyed FTDI USB to Serial Interface chips in the marketplace with the recent update. Many people are up in arms over this “clearly illegal act”.

But is it illegal, and how much harm has it done? Microsoft obtains the FTDI Drivers from FTDI. The FTDI drivers provided by FTDI are certified to work with their chips. There are devices on the market that use counterfeit FTDI chips, that this update will not work with. In fact, the update turns the chip “off”.

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Is that illegal? Not that I can tell. Microsoft themselves disable Windows functionality if it determines it’s not a genuine copy. Fortunately, there is a utility that you can run to turn the chip back on.

How does this Affect Arduino Users? If you are using recent Arduino boards, not at all, as they no longer use FTDI chips (and came with legitimate FTDI chips when they did use them). If you are using arduino clones, like Sainsmart and others, there may be a non-FTDI (even though it says FTDI) chip on board. The following video explains how to fix your “bricked” non-ftdi interface. No damage has been done, and you can get your equipment working again.

FTDI responds to the outrage:

We appreciate your feedback, comments and suggestions.

As you are probably aware, the semiconductor industry is increasingly blighted by the issue of counterfeit chips and all semiconductor vendors are taking measures to protect their IP and the investment they make in developing innovative new technology. FTDI will continue to follow an active approach to deterring the counterfeiting of our devices, in order to ensure that our customers receive genuine FTDI product. Though our intentions were honourable, we acknowledge that our recent driver update has caused concern amongst our genuine customer base.  I assure you, we value our customers highly and do not in any way wish to cause distress to them.

The recently release driver release has now been removed from Windows Update so that on-the-fly updating cannot occur. The driver is in the process of being updated and will be released next week. This will still uphold our stance against devices that are not genuine, but do so in a non-invasive way that means that there is no risk of end user’s hardware being directly affected.

As previously stated, we recommend to all our customers to guarantee genuine FTDI products please purchase either from FTDI directly or from one of our authorised distributors.

If you are concerned that you might have a non-genuine device, our support team would be happy to help out.

Yours Sincerely

Fred Dart – CEO

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