Thus, it's hard to tell if Windows 8.1 will be compelling enough to change the adoption plans of enterprises, but even if it doesn't, IT departments need to be ready to deploy Windows 8, according to Johnson.
Those rollouts may be limited to special sets of users or scenarios, such as a new fleet of tablet devices, but interest on Windows 8 is high among end users, more so than among IT pros. A Forrester survey in last year's fourth quarter showed that 38 percent of employees would prefer to have Windows 8 on their work PC, while 35 percent expressed a preference for Windows 7. Also of significance was that when asked about their work tablet preference, 26 percent chose the iPad, while 20 percent picked a Windows 8 tablet.
As a result, IT departments need to be ready for the arrival of Windows 8 devices in their enterprises, whether the adoption is led from the top down or whether it's via a BYOD situation in which employees bring their personal Windows 8 tablets to work.
Johnson recommends that IT departments first and foremost accelerate and complete their Windows 7 migrations, because this move from Windows XP will put their enterprises' IT infrastructures in much better shape to accommodate Windows 8 machines.
Also, they should implement a formal BYOD policy and program, because it's likely that Windows 8 devices will begin to appear in their enterprises in this manner. "With Windows 8, you should understand how to support BYOD scenarios and be opportunistic about finding applications for tablets, because they may prove useful in many instances," he said.
Johnson also recommends implementing and expanding application and desktop virtualization, as well as testing and piloting Windows 8, its applications and its devices with a variety of employees from different departments.
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.