Upgrading to Windows 8.1 on the Surface RT Will Break Wired Internet Access

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.

16 comments on “Upgrading to Windows 8.1 on the Surface RT Will Break Wired Internet Access”

  1. Pingback: Plugable USB Ethernet Adapters – Driver Updates with Windows 8.1 Upgrade | Plugable

  2. Juan Campa

    Is this true with windows 8.1 on a Surface Pro. I have an USB3-E1000 which would appear to be not working on Surface Pro after 8.1 upgrade. Have downloaded drivers and windows update with no joy. Is it broken!!

  3. MrF

    on win 8.1 Pro x86 32bit my LOGILINK UA0144 USB-ethernet-adapter works very well – like before (Viewpad 10) without the installation of a new driver!

    on RT 8.1. the driver is present, but the signature fails – so the driver (and the adapter) is not working (surface RT)

    • Bernie Thompson

      Unfortunately, my assumption is that Microsoft page is mislabeled — should say Surface Pro only.

  4. MisterF

    have you tested it?

    Microsoft says: “To use the Surface Ethernet Adapter with Surface RT you’ll need to update to Windows RT 8.1 and check Windows Update.”

    They say: *RT*

  5. Steve

    So, I just got a regular update after installing Windows 8.1 on my Surface RT and it seems that Microsoft has added in the drivers!

    The ASIX AX88772C USB2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter driver is now present – but you need to Update the driver in Device Manager to get it activated. Now it is, it’s working like a dream.

  6. David Roberts

    Hi Steve,

    We had a similar experience with our RT that had the Windows 8 driver installed before we upgraded to Windows 8.1. The driver began working again today. We were a little suspicious, though and so we reverted to a fresh install on the RT, and alas, no driver installed. We are not sure exactly what happened, but we suspect is that there is no 8.1 driver being distributed by Microsoft. Instead, we think 8.1 has been updated so that it accepts the previous Windows 8 driver, even though it is not signed for 8.1. So if you already had that driver on your RT, it looks like it will work now. If not, you are stuck. Does this fit with your experience? Did you have the driver previously installed under Windows 8?


    • MisterF

      sorry, but it do not work today with the 88772B and Win RT 8,1 (in german)
      I have deinstalled the drivers, plug in the adapter – no driver was found online.
      I have installed the old drivers – and the missing signature error appears.

      • MisterF

        Yes Microsoft added the drivers for the 88772 on RT !
        It works perfect with the 88772C drivers (I have a 88772B-adapter) !
        You must manual select the C drivers with uncheck “compatible drivers only”!

  7. Steve

    I did, but had an issue with my Surface and Microsoft replaced the tablet completely last week.

    So I had a clean Surface RT, and didn’t back anything up from the original one, because it didn’t really have anything of importance on the device itself.

    I then updated the firmware in 8, didn’t bother to install the driver I kept in my dropbox and then updated to 8.1. I saw a post on neowin that Microsoft had made the official ethernet adapter work with a recent update, so I decided to see if my Belkin would work, and it did.

    • MisterF

      The Belkin works with the realtek-drivers?
      Whats the full name of your Belkin USB-LAN-adapter?
      Whats the driver name it is work with?

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