Generally, I have no problem with critical and important Windows updates; the vast majority of the time (in my experience) they do much more good than harm. Plus for these, which tend to be security updates, the Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary provides some good information, and the Internet Storm Center provides detailed, clear, and independent recommendations on each (see for example their Feb 2011 bulletin).
Deciding on installing recommended updates, on the other hand, is fraught with much trepidation. Let me interject here that I have great respect for Microsoft developer tools: Visual Studio is amazing; I am enamored of LINQ; and Win7 is quite cool.
Today, for example, I had three recommended updates to consider. One (KB2454826) sounded fairly innocuous: "... a reliability update...to enable a set of performance and functionality update for graphics, media foundation, and XPS components on windows 7....". A quick web search, however, turned up Microsoft pulls another botched auto update patch, KB 2454826 from a site I have visited before. Since I do not have a graphics-heavy machine, I decided promptly this one was one to skip.
I started off very wary of the next one (2467023) because all it says is "Install this update to resolve issues in Windows." [sarcasm] Gee, I thought, a magic pill! I then went to the KB page that added little detail: "This update addresses issues that occur when Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 unloads and loads system binaries." The KB web page has lots of information on it--many screenfuls--but that one sentence is the only thing that attempts to describe the update. Come on, Microsofties! This is simply non-information. Who does this affect? And how often? And what are the ramifications? It sounds like this problem should affect everybody and very frequently. Doesn't the system load binaries all the time?
So my question is this: Is there a source (either from Microsoft or from a reliable third party) equivalent to Microsoft's Security Bulletin Summary for recommended or other non-security updates?