It goes without saying that when an update for a particular program is available, you probably should go and retrieve it, especially if it points this out when you first run the program. The reason I say this is because if the software is smart enough to recognize you are using an older version and the software has the ability to let you know this and even go as far as pointing you to where you retrieve the latest version then by all means, you should be doing this! That being said, windows itself has this built in feature, but does that mean you should be installing whatever they "recommend"? NO, by no means would I suggest you simply believe everything is necessary nor it is recommended. I say this because quite often there may be certain updates that are deemed 'critical' by Microsoft however this would seem only true if you had that certain piece of hardware that was requiring the software patch. A lot of the critical updates are directly related to the Internet Explorer and if you say "I'm not using the Internet explorer so I don't need this" then you may only be partly right. Since the Internet explorer web browser is one thing, but unfortunately windows xp relies on the 'explorer' part of the Internet explorer to handle pretty much any Internet related activity as it follows this 'path' through the various security functions of the operating system. To help make you understand this better. Take a look in the control panel and you will find the INTERNET OPTIONS relates back to the same place as if you were to click on TOOLS from within the Internet explorer and choose INTERNET OPTIONS. You will find that it is actually the very same place. Therefore no matter what web browser you use, even though it will have its own options, a lot of these will also depend on the INTERNET OPTIONS of the control panel itself. So if you are uncertain as to what exactly you should be installing, I always suggest you choose CUSTOM whenever you are prompted about something, no matter if it says "for experienced or advanced users", believe me when I say that you can choose CUSTOM option and the only difference is you will now be prompted more often, and, if you are uncertain as to what option you are supposed to choose, by simply clicking the enter button will automatically choose the software's default options, just as though you had chosen the 'recommended' installation, but the difference is now you will be seeing these specific prompts as to where the installation will be installed to (the program path) as well as quite possibly, the ability to choose exactly what features you want installed, which may save you a lot of time later on when you find that all of your settings have changed due to this program now becoming the 'default program'.
I recently blogged about the fact that maybe it is time to turn off the automatic windows update feature and go back to using a simple 'notify' so that you will see there are updates available but now you can choose if you really want to install them or not. Or, better still, if you are uncertain, a simple email to someone that is more qualified then you feel you are should be able to help you out (yes, I don't mind receiving email regarding this sort of thing if it is going to save you troubles down the road).
I personally use the AVANT Browser as my choice of web browsers and because it is not a Microsoft product, it is up to the program to let me know there is a newer version of the web browser available, and it does this by a prompt when you go to use the program. Thing is, if you select NO to not go and retrieve it, there is a good chance that you will never be prompted again, as in a lot of software, they are set to prompt only once on this and so if you select NO then that will be the last time you ever see this and now you are using an older web browser, which is certainly NOT recommended as with any browser updates/patches, they are a necessity to make sure your system does not become a sponge for spyware and other malware and possible trojan horse viruses. This is also the reason why I have created the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page, so that you have the ability to go to one place to retrieve your updates, without finding you have installed the wrong items by clicking on the wrong file to download. As with most software programs, they will utilize some sort of 'sponsored' website to host the installation files and therefore you can quite often install not only the update you required, but some other 'free trial' software. Avoiding this sort of thing is key so if you know of a place where you can go and trust that you are only getting what you need, then take advantage of it, just like I suggest you take advantage of any other services your technical friends can help you with if you are uncertain!