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In PuTTY 0.59, if you need to use a serial port other than COM1 to COM9 inclusive, you have to add the magic prefix \\.\ (for instance, \\.\COM10) - a fact not included in the 0.59 documentation (although we added it shortly afterwards). The same goes for more exotically named serial ports or similar entities.
After a suitable amount of soul-searching, it seems that it would not be unreasonable for PuTTY to automatically prepend \\.\ to the serial-line string. (This works even for the traditional serial ports like COM1 - tested as far back as Win95.)
As a get-out in case someone finds something interesting to talk to that doesn't start with \\.\, we'll avoid adding the prefix iff the serial line string contains a backslash. (This will also mean that existing \\.\COM10 style configurations will continue to work.)
Audit trail for this semi-bug.