I found a new program the other day and so far it's earned my seal of approval. It's called ObjectDock, by Statdock. You know that bar of icons on the bottom screen of every Mac? Well, this is the PC version. I found it for free at Stardock.com where they offer all sorts of free (and paid for) packages. I've tried some of their other programs, but this one seems to actually be helpful. One of the features I like is the ability to add docklets, or buttons that do a little more than just act as a shortcut. I went to wincustomize.com and found all sorts to choose from. One docklet displays icons from my system tray so I can completely hide my task bar and gain that space back. Another one I like I found at aqua-soft.org which will put folder contents into a stack for easy viewing. There are many more, like a battery monitor, to choose from.
I really like this program because it gives me back my desktop. I don't have to share it with task bar, or deal with the task bar popping out any time something happens. You know what? This is enough reading. Go ahead and download it and try it for a week. Trust me, I think you'll like it and if you have any questions feel free to send them my way.