Surface works with official Ethernet adapter thanks to Windows RT 8.1 [Update .... or not?]

 

If you bought an original Surface tablet when it was first released in October 2012, you might have noticed that it did not have an Ethernet port. The tablet also didn't support any USB-based Ethernet adapters. There have been rumors that Microsoft was working on adding Ethernet drivers to Windows RT for the 8.1 release, but Microsoft never officially commented on those plans.

Now it appears that the Windows RT 8.1 update has finally added Ethernet driver support. In a page on the Surface support site, it states, "To use the Surface Ethernet Adapter with Surface RT you'll need to update to Windows RT 8.1 and check Windows Update."  While this would appear to be a confirmation that Ethernet support has finally come to Windows RT; Neowin has emailed Microsoft for official confirmation.

Previous rumors claims that the Connected Standby feature for Windows RT would not allow external Ethernet drivers to work on devices with the OS. If the support page is true, it would appear that Microsoft has overcome those boundaries. It would certainly be good news for Surface owners who would like the option of connecting to a wired network instead of relying on a WiFi connection.

Update: Well, the Microsoft support page may show Surface RT works with an Ethernet adapter if you install Windows RT 8.1, but Microsoft's spokesperson has just told us the exact opposite. The spokesperson stated, ""... Surface RT and Surface 2 don’t support Ethernet adapters at this time." We are trying to follow up to see why Microsoft's support page says one thing and their spokesperson says another.

Thanks to Andy for the tip!

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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27 Comments

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Panos lied to my face about this in the Houston Microsoft store. I'm NOT pleased.

Told me "Don't believe everything you read" when I said I'd read it wasn't supported.

Just confirming bobsled...

I have a Belkin adapter, did what he suggested - Device Manager > Update Driver, but instead of the Related FE driver, I selected the ASIX driver, and all is working- with a third party adapter!

I believe that was the same adapter that had the driver pulled from download about 6 months ago... saw it in the driver list when I went to update mine but good to know it's working also!

Got it working! Open device manager, click Update Driver and choose from list of available drivers. Then select the Realtek FE USB Adapter, ignore the warning about possibly being incompatible and you should be good to go! The ethernet link light comes alive and it's smooth from there.

Funny I had a third party USB Ethernet adapter working in windows RT (original surface) since the beginning.. with windows 8.1 Microsoft killed the adapter driver and will not let us reinstall it.. I guess they wanted only their provided hardware working on the surface RT..

its not that at all

Windows RT 8.1 does include support for USB Ethernet, but only devices that are InstantGo(Connected Standby) capable

Anyone can update their driver to support InstantGo (Connected Standby)

Torolol said,
its called deliberate incompatibility.

Story of Windows RT. It's sad... it could have been a complete ARM compile of Windows 8, but they really neutered it.

cristian.dan said,
great, now if they could unlock the desktop apps, at least for the developers would be awesome

At least compile a version of Visual Studio for RT...

CAP-Team said,
Why should it have been there from the start, does an iPad come with an ethernet connector?

Jesus, considering ours CAME with the original surfaces we have, you're dang right it should have been there from the start. I'm trying to figure out you're logic where this is OK in your world....

CAP-Team said,
Why should it have been there from the start, does an iPad come with an ethernet connector?

No, the iPad is too good for Ethernet!

shockz said,

Jesus, considering ours CAME with the original surfaces we have, you're dang right it should have been there from the start. I'm trying to figure out you're logic where this is OK in your world....

Your* since the edit button is gone.

shockz said,

Jesus, considering ours CAME with the original surfaces we have, you're dang right it should have been there from the start. I'm trying to figure out you're logic where this is OK in your world....

I get where you are coming from, but to fair, Microsoft only sold and advertised the Ethernet adapter as supported by Surface Pro, not Surface RT. Should it have worked sooner? Sure, I think so too, but it's not like they promised more.

shockz said,

Jesus, considering ours CAME with the original surfaces we have, you're dang right it should have been there from the start. I'm trying to figure out you're logic where this is OK in your world....

Wait, what? The Surface has never come with an Ethernet adapter.

Brandon Live said,

Wait, what? The Surface has never come with an Ethernet adapter.

The ones we picked up at the build conference contained a USB ethernet adapter.

CAP-Team said,
Why should it have been there from the start, does an iPad come with an ethernet connector?

Support should have been there from the start. iPad runs a phone OS. Surface runs a ARM compiled version of Windows 8 (albeit artificially limited in what it is allowed to run). Big difference in my opinion. Besides, Surface has a real USB port, so of course people (including me) want to be able to use USB wired adapters on occasion.