Generally if I have friends or colleagues over and they see my computer, they remark that my desktop is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, especially for a Windows environment. I am going to teach you how to get a wicked awesome desktop, without spending too much bank.
First off, lose the desktop icons. Right click anywhere on the desktop, click View (“Arrange Icons By” on XP), and then Uncheck “Show Desktop Icons”. Hey, you can see past all those icons and now you see your uninteresting desktop. Pimp that out by checking out InterfaceLIFT, one of the coolest desktop sites you’ll ever find, supporting nearly any resolution you can think of. So you have a sweet desktop and the taskbar. I realize that’s not too handy, not having anything really accessible on the desktop, so we’re going to add some stuff back. If you have Quick Launch buttons on your toolbar, detach them by right clicking the taskbar and unchecking “Lock the Taskbar”, and then dragging the Quick Launch buttons off and stick them up on the top of the screen (it should snap into place). You can now add shortcuts to whatever you want, and you’ll have little icons for each of them.
If you have a little bit of processing power to play with, you may want to forgo the above steps and proceed straight to the sweet love that is the dock. Those of you that run Mac OSX are familiar with this. Enter RocketDock, a free freakin’ dock. It is completely awesome as well as being completely free. Upon installing it, you can choose to move it anywhere on the desktop and can tell it to auto-hide. Currently I’ve got my RocketDock auto-hiding on the bottom with my taskbar on the top.