That is also true when Windows NTVDM blocks access. I use PortTalk to access them in DOS, but they must be a valid port. That also may be setup in the BIOS. VB just needs Inpout32.dll to use INP and OUT functions of Basic.
Serial ports need a device on them to return any values other than 255.
I saw a few adaptors and programs that can convert signals from a serial port to a parallel device, but I assume that is setup for LPT printers only. Like USB to parallel adaptors are. I don't know how they would work otherwise. Most laptops still have serial ports.
PS: In the "Fake Forum" can we have CUT in the right click highlight menu also?