The so-called "phone home" feature of Windows XP is beneficial in the sense that it helps end users and administrators automatically apply important updates and bug fixes. Besides providing ease of administration, it secures your computer from potential attackers by making it easier to apply the security patches. On the flip side, you may be potentially more vulnerable to attacks than you were before, the risk of messing up your computer's configuration increases substantially, and external organizations have more control over your personal computer. In short, life becomes easier in many ways, but you wonder whether your PC should now be called Public Computer.
If you are an average user, you are most likely unaware that your computer communicates with the outside world so frequently, and perhaps you care less about the consequences. If you are a network administrator who supports the end users, you probably want more control over the updates on your corporate computers. If you are a techie, you definitely want complete control over your computer. You prefer to disable every automatic update and be your own boss, making your own decisions and taking your own risks. No matter which category you fit in, hopefully after reading this article you will be in a better position to decide what's right for you.