From the non-automatic updater's point of view...
my virus scanner has automatic updates, but I turned them off because when autoupdate decides to auto-update, it spawns a new (Windows XP) process with equal priority to whatever else I was doing (like playing a game of Crysis with all options turned to maximum). My computer ACK!'s and dies when this happens, so I turned the damned auto-update systems off permanently. When I feel like updating, I will.
Windows XP has the ability to set the process priority level, but these damned shoddy programmers don't even bother to make use of it. Any constantly-running program should be running with the lowest priority in the background, so as to not interfere with the important stuff that I bought the computer for in the first place. But even then, the scanner I use gives me a 50% CPU spike from time to time, *even when it's not updating*. Why? I have no freaking clue. Maybe it's communicating with the mothership. Maybe it's communicating with home base to provide me with a hand-holding message that "you really should turn auto-update on so you can be as safe as we can make you". Maybe some hacker is using my anti-virus software to spoof my system and look around. Maybe the anti-virus company is looking around on my computer without telling me about it, just like the warrantless-wiretapping fiasco in the US. Maybe the government is peeking in my computer, too. But can my anti-virus software tell me which it is? Noooooooo. Why? Because either they aren't doing their job correctly, or they're breaking the law. I sent this question this week to my anti-virus software company's tech support: Why does my CPU get spiked by my anti-virus software when I'm not running it, and I have all automatic updates turned off? Answer: Silence. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. What they wish they could say: It's a *trade secret* how our product works - if everyone knew our source, they could exploit it. Therefore, we can't tell you why this is happening, because if we said anything, our asses would be showing, and we could get sued by everyone who uses our software.
Well, hell, we're right back to square one again. Write good code or GTFO.
Furthermore, Windows update tells me that IE7 is required to make my computer more secure. Well, if the computer doesn't do what I want it to do, in a reasonable timeframe, then the computer is worthless. I run a fairly tight OS, so IE7 didn't hurt me much (more in the clutzy interface than the actual run-time speed). However, if they decide to put a time-bomb in future browsers, I can always go to the public library to do my web-surfing - my computers run efficiently, or not at all. The library computers have virus scanners, too, so I won't need one of those at home either. And the time-bomb won't matter to people who are running current browsers, because they're not updating them anyway. You'd have to sneak-force an upgrade on them (Windows Genuine Advantage, anyone? Perhaps XP Service Pack 3?). Do you see what that means? It means that if they keep trying to *force* us to upgrade to crappy, non-backwards-compatible software, they will lose money. LOTS of money. After all, I forgot to mention Linux and Firefox - FREE. My rule is that the new software MUST be as good as the old software, or it doesn't get installed. No saving throw, no motion to reconsider - out the door it goes.
My point is that being up to the latest and greatest (yeah, right) version is NOT going to give you absolute security. As was mentioned before, the price of total security means the program gets bigger and slower, forever until the end of time (unless the hardware keeps getting faster forever, and that's unrealistic). Maybe if the governments and industry focused on interdicting the motives of the criminals (like the profitability of bot-nets, for instance) rather than reacting to the criminal acts, maybe they could cut out the source of the crime, and this cycle could be broken. Until then, it's up to the software writers to put out fast, efficient, and secure products. Remember, you can never stamp out crime, you can only make it so difficult that most people won't attempt it.
And on a personal note, I believe that any company that deliberately writes crappy code just to stay in business should be forcibly disbanded by the government as a national terrorist threat and a fraudulent organization (and their CEO/Board of Directors should be imprisoned as such).
Of course, if the government is using the anti-virus companies to covertly hack into our computers without us knowing it, my personal note will never happen, and the industry is doomed anyway. It's George Carlin's definition of customer service all over again.
And since this is a British website, they're probably tapping my transmissions anyway, so I just gave them a horrible idea, even if they weren't already using it. :(