Rumor: External Ethernet support to be added to Surface RT

If you have bought a Surface RT tablet from Microsoft in the last few weeks thanks to its recent $150 price cut, you may have noticed that it doesn't contain an Ethernet port. If you tried to buy a USB-based external ethernet dongle, you also noticed that it doesn't work on the tablet, because currently Windows RT doesn't support external ethernet drivers.

Microsoft has also not put in any external ethernet drivers in the Windows RT version of the Windows 8.1 preview build. However, ZDNet reports, via unnamed sources, that Microsoft is in fact working to add that feature for the Surface RT. The main barrier is apparently that the Connected Standby feature won't work with current external ethernet drivers, but Microsoft, with the possible help of some of its hardware partners, is trying to change that situation. There's no word on a specific release date for this feature.

This would certainly be a big help for frequent travelers who might prefer connecting to an Ethernet port at a hotel room or airport terminal versus a WiFi connection, which are not exactly known for their solid Internet connections.

The same article also says there's no word if Microsoft will add an LTE connection to any future Surface RT or Surface Pro tablet, although it adds it is a request that Microsoft is asked about frequently and is still a possibility.

Source: ZDNet | Image via Battery1in

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19 Comments

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I think if Microsoft has the ability to add a feature to a product that's already released is great, and if some of the community is asking for it they should just do it. It shows that they are listening to customer feedback, and also shows that even through price drops and sales failures on their end, Microsoft still stands behind the product. New features through software and firmware updates is a good thing. Whether or not it's actually needed by most is debatable, but the action here is not.

JHBrown said,
Why?

The only reason I can think someone would buy this.....is that they have decided (for whatever reason) to keep their crummy ISP router.

No idea why anyone would want an ethernet port on a tablet

glen8 said,

The only reason I can think someone would buy this.....is that they have decided (for whatever reason) to keep their crummy ISP router.

No idea why anyone would want an ethernet port on a tablet

First off you've missed that the Surface RT isn't just a tablet, it's also an ARM-based Laptop... i.e. a convertible device.

Second, there are plenty of situations that being able to use a wired connection would be great as article points out. Maybe the production network at your workplace is accessible via wireless, but it sure isn't where I work. Wireless is a completely separate network by design. Having wired Ethernet on the Surface RT would be awesome for that reason alone. If you're suggesting a built-in port no, I don't need that, just a USB adapter as the article is discussing.

You missed the part where people have been posting in an uproar over the fact that MS doesn't support this in RT. I saw people not happy about this.

Personally, I have no use for it, but apparently MS feels its worth adding support based on the feedback of those people.

oh Microsoft....how have you become so bad?

Every news article I've read this year has had me cringing.

ahhell said,
So adding features is a bad thing now?
Really?

It's not a feature, it's an ethernet adapter.....keeps your tablet tied to the wall. Perhaps they should address the wifi issues first. Now there's an idea

Rudy said,
You forgot to add /s to your post

I would love to connect ethernet to my tablet because the wifi around me drops out continuously, whereas with cable works perfectly fine.

Add this, 3G/LTE, and Outlook, and RT will be a winner for executives in corporations. The Microsoft will see that trickle down effect - Surface Pros or RT to some employees.

it actually worked on 8.0 when you had the right drivers (AX88772B_772A_772_WinRT_Driver_v3.16.0.1807) and worked with a number of different USB2Ethernet adapters (in my case it was an ancient Nyko NetConnect USB to Ethernet). It stopped working after upgrading to the 8.1 preview. Good to hear they are changing course on this.