According to this piece in yesterday's Washington Post, Microsoft is "looking very seriously" at implementing automatic updates in a "mandatory" fashion. Interesting.
I'm not sure where I stand on this, but I think that this may be a good idea at this juncture. It should at least be considered as an option until we have an operating system that is more secure by design so that exploits aren't so easy to generate. The attack surface for a modern computer running a variety of software packages with a persistent connection to the web is getting very large. Keeping those systems secure from both destructive and nuisance viruses, along with worms that propagate e-mail and do other silly things is a big challenge, and having automatic security updates and an anti-virus solution with an auto-update feature could go a long way. Even having automatic updates turned on by default, with the option to turn it off if you choose, may be a decent solution.