I don't have it either...
...and I have Google Earth, and I haven't disabled or fiddled with the the task scheduler (that reminds me...). Perhaps I disabled something else vital to its existence - I did have a major process prune many years ago... (again, that reminds me....)
Yes, the number of applications that poop update schedulers and other services onto your computer is annoying. Realplayer got replaced by Real Alternative and QuickTime by QTLite for that very reason. Also annoying are the tortuous, interlinked dependencies between Windows services, making it impossible to disable some bits of useless cruft without losing some components that you need. We also have Ubuntu here, and its update system is far more satisfactory, not to mention trustworthy - you never know what Redmond is going to spring on you next. Of course, Windows Update does encompass some third party drivers and stuff, but it looks like you need to be both pretty big and friendly/non-competitive with Microsoft before you can get on that particular train.
In the absence of a unified update system, the way to go about it is to (offer to) check for updates when the application is launched. Lots of apps do it this way. I think Acrobat Reader did *both*, until I went at it with HijackThis (and replaced it with Foxit Reader when it became available).
Look, here's another example: the (unused) LightScribe function of my DVD burner has its own service, running all the time. *clickety* Not any more, though. And time, I think, for another look at the rest of that services list.