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If you installed the latest security patches manually or via WSUS, this included MS05-051. On systems where the default security on %windir%\subscriptions has been modified, you may experience the following symptoms (from the KB article):
The fix is to reset permissions per this article:
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=909444 (Incidentally, we talk about this in today's podcast, which will be available some time this weekend).
Thanks to your post and the link to a cure I was able to fix my PC after a day and a half of wondering what happened after the latest MS Updates. I just about to do a reformat and total install...