While some of our favorite desktop applications automatically alert us when a newer version is available, many do not. Fortunately, there are several utilities that will scan your PC, compare the version numbers of your installed applications with an online database, and let you know if new versions are available for download.
RadarSync does that, and more. Unlike other update checkers, RadarSync will scan not just for software updates, but also for driver updates. Once you scan your computer, you can either click the "Downlods all items" button (seriously, that's what it says), or click Details next to the items you're interested in. The details window will show you a brief description of each application, and even a list of alternate programs that do basically the same thing. For example, if you check the details window for Pidgin, you'll find Google Talk, AIM, and Meebo.
The utility will also let you download and install updates directly from the manufacturer's website. RadarSync's basic version is available as a free download. For $29.95 per year, you can get access to the full version, which gives you access to tech support and also lets you schedule automatic system scans.