However, Silver added an important caveat: "Even a patched OS has risks. If you did enough to reduce surface area for attack, you could create a Windows XP system that's more secure than the typical Windows 7 PC," he said.
Avast executives could not be reached for comment, though a spokesperson did confirm the survey results for our article.
We talked to people who've consciously chosen to stick with Windows XP. By and large, those users believe that Windows XP PCs are essentially appliances, and good online behavior can eliminate the threats that come from malware and drive-by downloads.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has offered everything from free data transfer to discounts on new PCs to encourage users to switch. Even corporations and governments that have paid Microsoft dearly to extend support have to have a transition plan in place. But a significant percentage of those who have invested in Windows XP appear to be wedded to that OS. That choice is undoubtedly leaving them vulnerable to future problems.