A new survey of nearly 1,000 IT professionals conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by systems management vendor KACE (now owned by Dell), reveals a boost in enthusiasm for Windows 7 adoption at companies of various size and industry.Of the IT professionals surveyed, 87 percent now plan to deploy Windows 7. Also, in a break with conventional wisdom, almost half of respondents are not waiting for the release of Service Pack 1 to deploy Windows 7 to their corporate desktops and laptops.This is a marked improvement over a similar survey from a year ago where the majority of survey respondents had no plans to upgrade existing systems to Windows 7 in the next year. In this year's survey, 58 percent of respondents expect to have Windows 7 deployed by the end of this year.\n\nSlideshow: Seven Features in Windows 7 You Probably Don't Know About\nSlideshow: Windows 7 in Pictures: The Coolest New Hardware\nSlideshow: Seven Tools to Ease Your Windows 7 Rollout\n\nThe study concludes that IT staffs have simply grown more confident in the stability, performance, security and hardware requirements of Windows 7. Fifty-six percent of participants in the current survey are reporting concerns about Windows 7, down from 67 percent in the 2009 survey. Though there are fewer reported concerns about Windows 7, there are still concerns. Software incompatibility and migration costs are the most common. Overall, IT pros remain more concerned about Windows 7 than Windows XP, but the trend is favoring Windows 7. In 2009, Windows 7 was a greater area of worry with 72 percent of survey respondents reporting they are more concerned about it than XP. This current survey showed that Windows 7 is still the greater worry, but that number went down to 60 percent.Some of the survey's key findings:--Almost half of respondents (46 percent) are not waiting for the release of Service Pack 1 to deploy Windows 7 to their corporate desktops and laptops. This is a surprisingly high percentage given that waiting for the release of the first service pack is a common best practice when deploying any new operating system.--Plans for Windows 7 deployments far exceed comparable Vista deployments. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents plan to deploy Windows 7 just three months after its release, compared to the 47 percent who reported having plans to adopt Vista in a prior survey conducted nine months after the release of that operating system (which was still before the release of Vista SP1).--Regarding deployment time frames, more than half (58 percent) of survey respondents expect to have Windows 7 deployed by the end of this year. Sixteen percent have already deployed Windows 7 and 42 percent plan to deploy this year.[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system -- including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts -- see CIO.com's Windows 7 Bible. ]One aspect of the survey likely to be music to Microsoft's ears is that there was a drop in the number of companies considering alternative operating systems to Windows.After three consecutive surveys showing increasing interest in alternative desktop operating systems to Windows, that trend was reversed this time around with only 32 percent saying they have considered an alternative, compared to 50 percent in 2009, 42 percent in 2008 and 44 percent in 2007.This waning interest in Windows alternatives had a more negative effect on Linux than Apple's Mac OS. In fact, Macintosh interest increased, while interest in Linux decreased. Among survey respondents considering switching from Windows, Mac was the most frequently mentioned OS, up to 32 percent in the current survey from 27 percent in 2009. Interest in Ubuntu Linux and SUSE Linux as a Windows alternative both dropped by 3 percent compared to the year before. Interest in Red Hat Linux stayed the same.A total of 923 respondents completed the KACE\/Dimensional Research survey in January 2010. Respondents included hands-on IT professionals (41 percent), IT managers (29 percent), IT executives (26 percent), and others. Respondents represented a wide range of company size and industry verticals.Shane O'Neill is a senior writer at CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com\/smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter at twitter.com\/CIOonline.