While Windows is entrenched and dominant in PCs, it is a minor player in tablets, a critical market in which Microsoft has to solidify its position. "Whether Windows 8 is great or not doesn't necessarily change Microsoft's position in the PC space. But if Windows doesn't become competitive in tablets, it leaves Microsoft in a very vulnerable position," he said. "It's absolutely critical for Windows 8 to be successful in tablets."
Gartner's Silver expects Windows 8 to do much better commercially right out of the gate in the consumer market, which welcomes, and even encourages, more frequent operating system releases than the enterprise.
Still, Visser makes a case for strong interest in Windows 8 by IT departments as well, listing features like Windows To Go, which lets users boot and run Windows 8 from USB devices like flash drives, and the new, much trumpeted Metro UI, designed with touch screens in mind.
IT officials will also be interested in Windows 8's new features which simplify the way end users manage their connections to Wi-Fi and mobile broadband networks, as well as in its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) improvements, he said. In addition, Windows 8 also features security enhancements, such as a new secure boot process.
These and other enterprise IT features represent a compelling case for IT professionals to start looking at Windows 8 and try out the beta, to see how the finished operating system eventually will offer their organizations business value, Visser said.
Gartner's Silver, however, thinks Windows 8 may share the fate of Windows Vista, which enterprises largely bypassed.
"Some of those Windows 8 features will be compelling for organizations, but the question is: Will they be compelling enough for organizations to go back into that project and re-do a bunch of desktops again? For most organizations we think the answer will be: no," Silver said.
"It's possible some organizations may decide to deploy Windows 8 on new machines that come in but I wouldn't really expect that to happen much before the beginning of 2015 and by then we'll probably be looking at Windows 9 around the corner," he added.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.