There is a very good article on running ME that has a section (9) on managing your start up applications as well as a lot of links to various resources:http://www.burzurq.com/forum/trevtweak.html
Secondly, you should consider running scandisk and defragging in "Safe Mode" which you can get to by tapping the F8 key whilst booting your computer. This kills all but one or two necessary programs within Windows so that both will run without interference.
I am not clear whether or not you have kept up-to-date with Windows updates, and therefore already have them installed, or you have not, and there is a problem with the automatic update correctly recognising what you have and have not installed. If you have already installed updates, there is no point in installing them a second time.
I would suggest you check out the link I provided, run scandisk and defrag in safe mode, and the reply if these do not help, or if you have additional questions, add to this post. Sluggish computers generally are bloated with too many programs running in the background, and fragmented hard drives, rather than MS updates, which tend to be important security patches.
Edited by jgweed, 30 November 2004 - 10:16 AM.