UPDATE 5/12/2014: The information below is out of date. Beyond Microsoft asking us to remove the driver download, this process will no longer work on Windows 8.1 due to the driver not being signed for use on Windows 8.1.
When you first plug in a USB Ethernet adapter (and network cable), the Surface will not automatically install a driver.
Microsoft has sent confusing or negative messages about supporting driver installs on Windows RT and the Microsoft Surface. It’s possible they’ll disable things in the future. But today, it turns out to be possible to get wired Ethernet connectivity on the Microsoft Surface (which is otherwise Wifi only by default) with the right hardware and a driver install.
Here’s how with the Plugable USB 2.0 10/100 Ethernet Adapter.
download the driver for the Plugable USB2-E100. (Filename: AX88772B_772A_772_WinRT_Driver_v126.96.36.1997.zip)[update 12/23/2012 – Microsoft has asked that this driver no longer be distributed by ASIX or adapter makers like us].
See this post for details. The rest of the instructions which follow will work on the Microsoft Surface (and perhaps other Windows RT ARM devices), if a search of the driver name above finds any available sources.
Then use the Windows Shell to uncompress the .zip file into its own folder. Later we’ll be pointing Windows at this directory from Device Manager.
You must start Windows Device Manager manually. The quickest way is by hitting the Windows-R hotkey, and run “hdwwiz.cpl” to open Windows Device Manager.
You’ll see the new Plugable USB Ethernet device marked with a yellow triangle because it has no driver installed.
Now right click on that device and select “Update Driver Software”
Searching won’t find the driver. Browse to the specific location we unzipped the driver previously.
Windows will look for the .inf file of the driver in the directory chosen. Assuming it’s there, click next to install the driver.
The driver is now installed. With the Plugable USB Ethernet adapter and cable connected, your wired network connection will come up.
Some networks (especially corporate ones) may be limited to certain MAC addresses or have other configuration issues, that are usually solvable.
Any problems? Let us know – we’ll work to help. Comment here or just email our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org (We’re in Seattle, WA / Pacific Timezone). Thanks!
Where to Buy