So I'm learning Node.js via Learnable. First, thanks for a great book. I had a question that arose from the book (although not directly related to it). I followed the install instructions and everything worked fine. However, I'm a "prisoner" of Windows OS since my company's an MS shop. Anyway, I discovered Chocolatey recently as another way to install Node.js. There are basically two ways, one including Node Packaged Modules and one not. The book talks about installs using NPM and the NPM site says it makes configuration and updates easier for Node.js.

I'm searching for some opinions here from those in the know about Node.js. Is NPM an absolute necessity to successful use of Node.js or can I run this non-NPM install and still fully take advantage. In other words, what advantages does NPM offer over not using it? Any thoughts here are appreciated.