Wired Ethernet Connectivity for the Microsoft Surface

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.

First, download the driver for the Plugable USB2-E100. (Filename: AX88772B_772A_772_WinRT_Driver_v3.16.0.1807.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 support@plugable.com (We’re in Seattle, WA / Pacific Timezone). Thanks!

Where to Buy

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8.1 and Earlier,... Product Details $13.95

15 thoughts on “Wired Ethernet Connectivity for the Microsoft Surface”

  1. Ah, so that’s the secret. Now that we know drivers will be coming, the Surface RT just got a whole lot cooler. I just bought your adapter.

    Thanks for keeping us posted on this, as well as for following up quickly on new developments.

  2. Thanks Bernie! I my end up grabbing one of these myself.

    You don’t say above, but is this driver going to be available via Windows Update soon? I’m quite comfortable with the steps you provided, right down to invoking CPLs by filename, but it will be annoying if all future driver installs on the Surface require such behavior. It would be like a return to last decade’s OSes…

    I guess what I’m asking is will MS permit automatic installs of third-party drivers via the automatic driver search functionality?

    1. Thanks for asking! As far as we know, Microsoft isn’t allowing that yet. And we don’t know their plans. But if anyone finds any better info, please feel free to comment here. Thanks!

    1. Hi Andrew-

      Thanks for asking, however sorry, we have no ETA for Windows RT driver availability for the gigabit adapter, at this time megabit speeds are all we know of being available.

      Best wishes-

      Jeff

  3. I am interested in USB driver development for Surface ARM. How the heck did you target the “driver” project to ARM platform in VS 2012? The HID USB sample from MS doesn’t target ARM.

  4. Is there a good documentation page you can point me to which describes how to get such drivers built to be installable following this manual process?
    Is there special signing needed or just rebuild for ARM ?

    1. Thanks Larry! Note, though, that there will be no known options when Windows RT 8.1 comes out (unless Microsoft adds the driver back in at the last minute).

  5. Are there any possibilities with windows 8.1? I bought the ethernet adapter that you recommend. I have the Microsoft Surface RT.

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