Like many other people in our industry I find myself supporting a number of friends and familiy members with their computers and applications.
Installing security updates from Microsoft is pretty easy and causes almost no problems. I wish the same could be said about updates to Java, Adobe Reader and other apps. Each has their own mechanism for detecting new updates, each uses its own installer and many of the installers want to sneak in additional software.
I came across http://ninite.com/
Ninite allow you to select applications from a long list of vendors. When you have made your selection you download a small (~250kb) .exe file. When you run this installer it will examine your system and figure out which version of the application is needed. If you already have an old version of one of the apps it gets updated.
So on my friends machines I select the applications and save the .exe on the desktop. Whenever an application requests an update (or a new java exploit is released into the wild) the user can simply run the installer and get updated.
Personally I use Ninite to ensure that all the applications I can not live without (like 7zip, Notepad++) are installed on any new machine I start using. I couldn’t really be much simpler.
Ninite is free for personal use and they offer a Pro version that can be used with System Center Configuration Manager. The pro version offers a silent mode and can install additional applications.