Microsoft will push the upgrade to Windows 8.1 on October 17, 2013, bringing many welcome improvements over Windows 8. However, for Surface RT users who have installed Plugable’s USB2-E100 USB to Ethernet adapter, upgrading to Windows 8.1 will prevent use of that adapter, making it impossible to access the Internet through a wired Ethernet connection.
Last year, Microsoft decided that the Surface RT will not support wired Ethernet operation (see here). Before this decision was finalized, Plugable provided a Surface RT compatible driver for its USB2-E100 USB to Ethernet adapter. We pulled down that driver in December 2012 at Microsoft’s request. For more details see this blog post.
Before the driver was taken down, many Surface RT users successfully installed it and are currently using the USB2-E100 for wired Ethernet access. Because all hardware drivers used in Windows 8.1 must be signed specifically for it, the Windows 8 driver that they are using for Windows 8 will stop working after the upgrade, and no new Windows 8.1 driver will be available.
This presents a dilemma. Surface RT users who are using the USB2-E100 will have to decide whether to upgrade to Windows 8.1 and lose wired Ethernet access or stay at Windows 8 and keep the ability to access the Internet and local networks through the USB2-E100. There is no way to both install the upgrade and keep compatibility. Please keep this in mind before accepting the upgrade to Windows 8.1.