Wired Ethernet Connectivity for the Microsoft Surface

UPDATE 5/12/2014: The information below is out of date.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.

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!

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

  1. Andy Rathbone Reply

    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. cbhacking Reply

    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?

    • Bernie Thompson Reply

      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!

    • Jeff Everett Reply

      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-


  3. mjmeans Reply

    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. Pingback: Windows RT (Surface) USB Ethernet Driver Going Away 12/23 | Plugable

  5. Constantin Dulu Reply

    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 ?

    • Bernie Thompson Reply

      Hi Constantin – Unfortunately, Windows RT is locked down. There isn’t a good way for developers or normal users (outside of OEMs building system images) to build drivers. See this post for discussion:

      So there’s no way to recreate any USB Ethernet drivers that exist on the full (Intel) version of Windows 8.

  6. Larry Huisinga Reply

    I did the driver install described above on my Surface RT, and it works great.

    • Bernie Thompson Reply

      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).

  7. Pingback: Surface RT USB-LAN-Adapter - Microsoft Surface RT - Windows Tablet Forum

  8. Rika Reply

    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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