Ethernet on Surface RT with Windows RT 8.1 (Updated)

Microsoft has finally given us USB Ethernet support for RT with 8.1.  Well sort of.  According to the support website you will see that the Surface Ethernet adapter works with RT 8.1 (*so do most 3rd party adapters).  (Update: Microsoft has removed Surface RT and Surface 2 from the page, don’t despair, it DOES work, read on) However, if you were to update your device, purchase the Surface Ethernet adapter, plug it in, you will get the infamous message “Not Compatible with this version of Windows.”  Even running Windows Update does not fix this issue, at least not at the moment.  I did some digging and found that the Surface Ethernet adapter uses the Realtek chipset and I noticed that in the Devices section under network adapters Windows RT now has a Realtek USB FE Family Controller driver.

So to make this work;

  1. Plug in your Surface Ethernet Adapter, wait for the installation to fail.
  2. Then open Device Manager, under Network Adapters right click on the Ethernet Adapter, it should have a yellow exclamation mark.
  3. Choose update driver, then select Browse my computer for driver software.  Then click “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”.
  4. If it doesn’t take you directly to Network Adapters, choose it from the list.  In the left pane your should see Realtek, highlight it and you should only have one option in the right pane for the Realtek USB FE Family Controller.  Select and next.
  5. If it warns you about compatibility just accept it.

The driver will install and you will have 10/100Mbps Ethernet on your Surface.  Only 1 year late, but who really noticed?

I can only presume that Microsoft will eventually fix this and make the process more automatic…but then again.

*Note:  This works with ASIX 88772C USB 2.0 adapters which is virtually most Ethernet Adapters on the market.  If you have a different adapter just remember to select the ASIX driver instead of the Realtek one.

MS Adapter Generic Adapter


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105 Responses to Ethernet on Surface RT with Windows RT 8.1 (Updated)

  1. Pingback: How to Dock your Surface RT and Surface 2 | DigitalManBlog

  2. Sam says:

    thanks! Worked on my Surface 2!

  3. Frustrated says:

    I am having the same problem as Mo Zambique. I have an MS ethernet adapter and Surface 2 tablet running 8.1 RT and neither of the drivers work. Just get an error saying “Windows encountered a problem installing the driver software for your device. This device cannot start (Code 10)”. Have fully updated the tablet and uninstalled/reinstalled both drivers many times Get the same error every time.

    • Check to make sure you do not have the newest Surface Ethernet Adapter. The original branded Ethernet Adapter was a USB2.0 100Mbps adapter whereas the newest one is USB3.0 1Gbps. The drivers included in Windows RT are only for USB2.0 devices.

      • John_S says:

        I think I also have the newest Microsoft Surface Ethernet Adapter – so expect its USB 3.0. What drivers (if any) will work for this ? Thanks for the help !

  4. Psychoroy says:

    Well, after many tries whit the Microsoft adapter writen “Gigabit” it has never work, also whit the Startech one who is a USB 3.0 adapter. I agree whit the idea that de Microsoft one is now a USB 3.0 too but it’s not notified on it. I just found a USB 2.0 Asix AX88772B for a cheap price and whit the correspondant driver it work at the first time.
    Now I can explain this to the Microsoft outline France. 😉

  5. godwhale says:

    I have a Surface 2 and recently bought a Microsoft ethernet adapter. I appreciate the information. I followed it as best as I can, but I still cannot make the Surface 2 recognize the adapter. It keeps telling me Error Code 10. And the details lists my device as “(null).” Is it an issue that I bought my Surface 2 in Japan? I really need to make the ethernet adapter work, because there is no wifi in my classroom, and we are all required to connect using cables. I really like everything about my Surface 2, except that I can’t connect via LAN cables. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

  6. hbr510 says:

    Does the Surface Ethernet Adapter USB 2.0 still work today? (With Windows RT 8.1 and all)

  7. Dan Dennis says:

    I just received a new Surface 2 – my 18 month old model died but I paid extra for the ‘Complete’ cover which extends guarantee to 2 years – and the Lenovo ethernet adaptor still works fine with the most recent Surface 2 (with the Lenovo I use the ASIX driver).

    Microsoft have finally made ethernet easy and supported with the Surface 3

    Best wishes


  8. hbr510 says:

    There’s a model with an AXIS chip but it uses AX88772 ALF and BLF. Would AX88772C driver on Surface RT work with this? Thanks!!

  9. Because it is not a supported solution it is hard to say. If it is USB2.0 and a 10/100Mbps adaptor there is a good chance that it will.

  10. Dorothy says:

    Does this Ethernet adapter look like it will work? I only ask because the description states that it works for Surface Pro. I’m trying to fix a Surface 2 for a friend who’s elderly and I’m not the most tech savvy person. Thanks for the article!

    • jontie says:

      Thanks for the tip neilhighley. Just bought the USB 2.0 adapter from Maplin UK. After a bit of fiddling and loading the ASIX driver, it worked fine on my Surface 2.

  11. Eric says:

    I did all those steps and it said windows encountered a problem installing the driver soft war for your device.
    Can you help me out how to fix this problem?

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