Word on the street suggests Windows 8.1 will be released in October and for many, the new operating system can't come soon enough. After dealing with plenty of grief over Windows 8, time is of the essence for Microsoft.

The lack of popularity of Windows 8 has caused a vast majority of PC users to stay with their previous OS rather than upgrade. Since Microsoft is a company built on software, failures on that side of their business can have catastrophic effects.

Along with launching Windows 8, Microsoft also entered the hardware market with introduction of its Surface tablets. Based on results thus far, since the Surface RT and Surface Pro launched, industry observers say Microsoft should keep its focus on squarely on software, which is what it does best.

Will Windows 8.1 Save Microsoft?

With current reports predicting that Windows 8.1 will come out in October, and leaks of the almost finished OS already available on torrent sites, Microsoft might strike gold with Windows 8.1. Specifically providing what people have been asking for should help Microsoft win back customers and get them to upgrade.

Windows 8 adoption rates have been absolutely horrendous. Some attribute the failure to the fact that touchscreen displays are expensive yet almost essential for Windows 8 to be beneficial. As of July's adoption rate report, Windows 8 only controlled around 5% of the market, whereas Windows 7 had 44%.

Hopefully, Windows 8.1 will bring back some of the core features necessary for people to use it in desktop mode without feeling limited. One problem with Windows 8 is that it does not have the start button in desktop mode that users were accustomed to using in earlier versions. That issue alone has lead to countless negative reviews and low adoption rates.

With Windows 8.1 presumably bringing back many of the necessary Windows features, Microsoft should see better adoption rates of the OS moving forward. I personally use Windows 8 and can say there are definitely some great things about it, such as improved boot times, for example. However, because of its heavy emphasis on touchscreen functionality, and touchscreens still not the norm on the desktop, Windows 8 has not been able to provide an adequate replacement for Windows 7.

The Surface Conundrum

The other aspect to Microsoft's failures with Windows 8 is related to its Surface tablets. Windows 8 relies on touchscreen controls and there are very few mainstream computers or tablets offering touch screens at a reasonable price. Microsoft tried to speed up adoption by introducing the Surface, but things did not go as planned.

The Surface Pro -- Microsoft's flagship device -- has not offered the level of performance expected from a nearly $1,000 device. Battery life has been horrible and with many people wanting to use laptops and tablets without them being plugged in, battery life is very important.

Unfortunately, the Surface RT and Pro have been unable to provide an increase in Windows 8 usage, as Microsoft would have hoped. Although other manufacturers are now hopping onboard and coming out with their own Windows tablets and laptops, Windows 8.1 is still necessary for widespread adoption of the operating system.