Now is the time for businesses to consider deploying Windows 8 on office PCs, according to analyst house Gartner.
Firms considering deploying Windows 8.0 on tablets, or other touchscreen devices, should evaluate "broader deployment" of the OS to desktop and laptop PCs following the upcoming, Gartner advises.
The 8.1 release will address criticisms about the usability of Windows 8 new tile-based interface, which some users of older Windows systems found confusing. The update will bring back the Start Button and make other UI tweaks, as well as introducing the ability to boot to the desktop and Internet Explorer 11.
"Some users rejected Windows 8 because of the changes Microsoft made, coupled with a lack of discoverability, help or cues for the new user experience," according to the post written by Michael Silver and Steve Kleynhans, vice presidents in Gartner's client computing team.
"Based on information currently available, Gartner believes Windows 8.1 features could quiet most of its detractors."
Windows 8 had been installed on fewer than one in 20 PCs and tablets as of the end of May this year, according to figures from web analytics firm Net Applications.
Businesses engaged in planning Windows 8 deployments should pilot on Windows 8.0 if it makes sense, but switch to the Windows 8.1 beta as soon as possible and plan to use Windows 8.1 for production deployments, Gartner says.
Gartner predicts changes in 8.1 will not break compatibility with most legacy Windows applications, but warns to expect "compatibility issues" when moving from IE8 to IE11.
Businesses using Windows 8 should expect more updates like 8.1 on an annual basis, it advises.
The final version of Windows 8.1 is due before the end of the year and will be delivered free to all Windows 8 and Windows RT users through the Windows Store.