Which peripherals work with Windows RT, Surface RT?

Which peripherals work with Windows RT, Surface RT?

Summary: Will your current mice, keyboards, printers and other peripherals work with PCs and tablets running Windows RT? Here's a site that offers some answers.

TOPICS: ARM, Tablets, PCs, Windows

Microsoft is slowly but surely filling in answer to the seemingly limitless number of questions about Windows 8 and Windows RT that us pesky journalists, bloggers and users have been asking for years.


The latest answer comes to a question I've posed a number of times: Were there any guidelines to which peripherals would and would not work with Windows RT? I'd been envisioning worst-case scenario ever since I found this disclaimer on the Microsoft Surface Web site: "Surface with Windows RT is compatible with mice, keyboard, printers and other peripherals certified for Windows RT."

Microsoft officials offered some guidance via a post on the Building Windows 8 blog a while back, where they discussed the concept of "class drivers," including the print-class driver for Windows 8 and Windows RT. But the lack of information about peripherals other than printers had me worried.

Today, November 5, I finally found the answer to my Windows RT compatibility question via a link on the Microsoft "You had me at 'Hello World'" blog. That blog had a link to the new and updated Windows Compatibility Center for Windows RT. Via that site, users can enter specific names/brands of mice, keyboards, webcams, printers and a bunch of other devices to check if they will work with Windows RT devices.

At the Windows 8 launch in New York City on October 25, Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky (yes, his official Microsoft bio finally identifies him as the head of the Windows division, and not the Windows and Windows Live Division) said Windows RT was compatible with 420 million existing hardware devices.

I've found a number of existing peripherals not compatible with Windows RT using Microsoft's Compatibility site. I've also discovered my current HP printer is limitedly compatible, meaning some of its features won't be supported. The accompanying mouse, which is my go-to, also is marked as limitedly compatible, but I've found it to work just fine with the Surface RT, so don't put too much stock in the "limitedly" part, I'd say.

What do you see on the list that concerns you, if anything, early Windows RT, Surface RT adopters?

Topics: ARM, Tablets, PCs, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • This is what I looking for...

    thanks for this MJ.
  • Canon MP530

    Yeah, I was very sad to discover that my trusty old workhorse all-in-one Canon MP530 printer/scanner/fax isn't supported on my shiny new Surface tablet. I'll have to settle with remoting into my desktop and printing from there until I get around to buying a new one (which probably won't be until the printer dies or they stop making ink cartridges).
    • Workaround

      A workaround is better than nothing, though :) I am very excited at the idea of using Remote Desktop on my Surface (when it arrives!). I'll essentially have my own miniature cloud-server environment.
    • There are several other options

      I suspect that Google Cloud Print will soon be an option for Windows RT (I know they are working on a Chrome port, and that is a staple of Chrome now). I have been playing with Cloud Print, and it actually works pretty well. Print a PDF or pic from my phone or tablet, and it appears on my printer the next time my desktop is on-line!
    • The search facility isn't very forgiving

      Try searching for "Canon PIXMA MP530" - I see it. It took me a long time to find both of my house printers. Interestingly, Okidata says that my grotty old color laser isn't compatible, but the Microsoft site says "compatible" (where as my 2009-vintage Canon ink-jet is labeled "limited").

      I had better luck by choosing "printer", and then technology and manufacturer and search through the *many* results that show up
    • Workaround

      Could you not share your printer from the desktop and add it the surface that way?
  • webcams

    2 compatible webcams are built into displays, the third is "limited compatibility" and only sold in Asia.

    No Microsoft-branded webcams are listed as compatible...
  • Kinect!

    When will I be able to plug my Kinect into my Surface?
    • LOL

      Don't worry, soon. As Microsoft has got (or application for it) patent for Kinect to be used as DRM for movies and TV series where buyer/renter needs to pay more to get 2+n viewers, while the 1-2 viewers is default.

      So example in future, we might see that when Kinect is every TV, computer display, tablet and so on and you buy or rent a movie, you only buy a amount of viewers rights. So if it is allowed for 4 to view movie, and Kinect notices there is 5 viewers, movie is stopped and then it is billed a more viewers.

      So be careful what you wish!
      • that sounds like a twilight zone episode.

        I think what you described would occur in the world of Gattica.
      • What he describes

        is occurring right now in the world of Fri13ica...
        William Farrel
  • You Can Forget USB 3.0

    Shame Surface won't be supporting the most advanced peripherals.
    • The Surface Pro will support USB 3.0

      The chip set/SOC they are using is USB 2.0 only. There isn't much you can do to get around that. It certainly beats the USB support in an iPad :-)
    • A shame but

      with the cloud and local storage I don't mind. If I need additional space the USB 2.0 will suffice. Sure it's not the fastest but still allows me to plug in external storage along with a 3rd party mouse, keyboard and printer. There are some tabs that don't get this luxury.
    • Like the USB 3.0 in the iPad?

      just asking.
      William Farrel
      • So, are you saying the Surface is

        just another iPad? Just asking.
        • just another iPad?

          I suppose, if all you are conserved with, is the USB connectivity flavor
          • just another iPad?

            oops ..
            I suppose, if all you are concerned with is the USB connectivity flavor
  • The general rule for multifunction printers....

    If a multifunction printer only supports USB for scanning, it won't work with Windows RT.

    Network multifunction printers that support the WSD (Web Services for Devices) protocol are the most compatible with Windows 8 and RT. They are typically discovered and installed automatically in Windows using class drivers.

    On and forget about there ever being an iTunes in the Windows Store (so that Windows RT will be able to install it). Microsoft is holding the keys to the driver castle on Windows RT, and they've already made it clear that they won't include drivers for Apple products. Besides, Microsoft would take their 30% of in-app purchase costs on top of Apple's, making it unprofitable for vendors. If "Windows RT is the future of Windows", then Apple ought to think about turning towards making iTunes into a website (like they originally told iOS developers to do), thereby bypassing the Windows Store, or else risk not being part of the Windows users world.
  • Thanks for finding the site.

    Good info. Thanks MJ. My Surface is working fine with our Pixma printer so I agree about your assessment of "limited".