How to fix USB Ethernet adapter in Surface RT with Windows RT 8.1

Surface with red cover

Apparently a handful of Surface RT users are getting the “Not Compatible with this version of Windows” error message installing the USB Ethernet adapter, which allows users to connect to wired networks, despite that Surface’s website says that Windows RT 8.1 support the adapter in Surface.

Just to make it clear the Surface Ethernet adapter works in Windows RT 8.1, but it seems that there is a sort of bug that is causing installation issues for some users. Lucky, you don’t have to wait until Microsoft releases a new Windows update, you can fix it right now using the following steps.


1. Connect the USB Surface Ethernet adapter and let the installation fail.

2. Use the Windows 8 Key +S keyboard shortcut, do a search and open Device Manager.

3. Expand Network adapters.

4. Right-click the adapter with the yellow exclamation mark, and choose Update Driver software.

5. Select “Browse my computer for driver software”, then click “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer”.

6. If you don’t see the Realtek network adapter driver, uncheck Show compatible hardware, from the “Manufacturer” list find “Realtek”, and from the right “Network Adapter” list select “Realtek USB FE Family Controller”.

Realtek Surface Ethernet adapter driver for Windows RT 8.1

7. Finally, click Next and if you get a notification warning about compatibility just accept it.

After the installation completes, you’ll be able to connect to your network using a four-pair copper cable.

Kudos to Paul, who pointed this workaround. He also noted that these instructions works with other Ethernet adapters (ASIX 88772C USB 2.0 ). If this is your case, remember to select the driver from ASIX family (ASIX AX88772C USB2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter).

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].