The enterprise and corporate environment is one area where Microsoft’s newest platform is yet to make its mark. Large companies rarely do upgrade to newer versions straight away.

But the looming retirement of Windows XP in just a few months provides a perfect opportunity for enterprise users to plan their upgrades. Some have already declared their intentions of going with Windows 8.1, while a fair few may go the Windows 7 route.

Microsoft just released the preview version of Windows 8.1 Enterprise earlier today.

And the software titan is now encouraging IT employees that want their PCs upgraded to the upcoming operating system to go ahead, download the preview and jump start their plans to deploy the final version of Windows 8.1 Enterprise once it hits general availability later this year.

In a new blog post on the official Windows blog, Microsoft states that deploying Windows 8.1 preview should be a breeze for businesses that already have Windows 8 Enterprise installed on their computers:

“You can leverage a fully-automated process to update existing Windows 8 systems. This process can be initiated using any software distribution or management tool, just by running “setup.exe /auto:upgrade” from the Windows 8.1 installation files.

This time required to perform this update process varies based on computer and network performance, with the fastest configurations taking around 15 minutes. Typical update times will depend on your environment, so test it out in your lab to see how long it will take for you.”

On the other hand, businesses that have Windows XP, Vista or 7 installed on their PCs can check out software solutions like Assessment and Deployment Kit for Windows 8.1, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2013, and System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager that Microsoft will soon offer.

These should make the transition to Windows 8.1 smoother, once the final version is launched.

Additionally, Microsoft confirms that pretty much all PCs that run Windows 7 and Windows 8 should be able to run Windows 8.1. The software titan also expects a high percentage of current desktop software to work under the new operating system, along with most of the currently available Metro apps.

However, businesses that are aiming to deploy Windows 8.1 on older Windows XP PCs are recommended to follow, what Microsoft calls, a prudent level of app testing before making the full switch to the new operating system.

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