Windows 7 Drivers for Apple’s USB Ethernet Adapter

Listen up, all you Boot Camp’in Mac users … Can’t find Windows drivers for the Apple USB Ethernet adapter? Want to use use the adapter on another Windows machine? Are you crazy?  Well, it turns out it CAN be done, with a little bit of trickery.

There is a lot to be said for Apple's simplicity of design.  Even their adapters and cables look as if they were pain stakingly and lovingly hand crafted by an eccentric, gay, Swedish man. Everything just looks better.

Recently, after the onboard NIC died in my Acer Aspire L3600 (which runs Windows 7 x64, and I use as a dedicated Windows Media Centre).  After flashing the BIOS and jumping through several hoops with no avail, I needed to go looking for another way to get a wired >=100Mbit/s network interface into the machine.  Since its ultra-compact form factor makes an internal PCI option impossible, I needed to go looking for an external (USB) option.  It didn't take long to realise that my options were going to be extremely limited and after checking out my nearby computer retailers, I had only two options.  A reasonably generic SWANN adapter, or Apple's USB Ethernet Adapter - both were in stock at my local Dick Smith Powerhouse.  The problem with the SWANN adapter, is that its a single solid block, and since my Media Centre lives very close to the wall, it wasn't desirable, while The Apple adapter can be flexed to a right angle.

Problem is, the Apple adapter says (on the back) that it can ONLY be used with an Apple MacBook.  But the adapter's drivers ARE included as part of BootCamp, which means it can function when running Windows on a MacBook. So with a little trickery, you can get it working on any old Windows 7 or Vista PC (32 or 64bit editions).

  1. First, you need to download the driver for the adapter, either the 32bit or 64bit version.
  2. Next, extract the zip file and locate the file Ax88722.inf.  It needs to be altered in order to get the device drivers to be installed.  In order to simplify the process, I've simply got the tweaked version here, for you to download. Just replace the original Ax88722.inf file with this one inside this zip file.
  3. Next, attach your USB ethernet if you have not done so. Launch device manager (right-click on "computer" and select "Manage"). Locate the lonely unknown device "Apple USB Ethernet" and right-click it to select "Update Driver Software".
  4. Select "Browse my computer for driver software" and in the file browser dialog select the folder of your recently modified .INI file and continue the wizard. This should bring your Apple USB ethernet to life!

Apparently there are drivers for 32bit versions of Windows XP, put together by the BootCamp community, if you're an XP user and feeling lucky you can try your luck with this link (but like the rest of this post, use it at your own risk).