So I've figured it's easier to make a point with pictures better than a blog rant, and pictures are easier to digest when they look like comics.
Now back to the picture, you might have a thing or too to say to this, so here are my justifications...
Yes, updates are really important. They fix bugs and security issues. But does every program every invented need to check for updates when the computer starts? No. They don't. Updates should be checked within the program itself when launched. While new mobile platforms have a unified updating system, I recommend FileHippo Update Checker for PC which is a safe and simple way to check for updates to all your software installed.
A software that runs seamlessly, a framework perhaps like Adobe Air or Java does need constant updating. As they affect many other programs and are likely to contain critical updates to critical issues. There is actually one reason I do disable Java: because of it's unforgivable recommendation to remove UAC in order for their crappy updater to stop drive-by UAC prompts.
Disabling start up items is indeed hiding the real problem. However it's the easiest fix, as often, people complain about a computer when they really need it to work. Given an important video conference or an assignment around the corner, you don't have time to uninstall everything. Which is what should be done. Computers don't age. With the exception of dust, it's always crap getting installed that slows a computer down over time. In my experience, the amount of bundled crapware that get installed by accident is insane.
If your antivirus is actually called this. Please uninstall.