Many people who trick out their computers with Rainmeter also use ObjectDock, a Windows taskbar replacement.
To some degree, I think this is a holdover from the bad old days of Windows XP and Vista. You've probably seen people who had desktops filled with icons because they wanted everything immediately accessible. The problem is this slowed down the computer quite a bit as the desktop became more cluttered.
Microsoft put considerably more power into the Windows 7 Task Bar, but some people are purists and are willing to pay $19.95 for ObjectDock Plus, which offers more versatility and power than the freeware version does.
ObjectDock Plus has things like multiple-dock support and active Windows task support, so you can see active tasks and switch to them. The problem I had was that the system tray was missing when I hid the desktop, so I brought it back and pushed it over to a corner. I'm still finding my way around ObjectDock myself, so hopefully I will figure out a solution.
ObjectDock lets you make desktop folders of sorts to organize your apps and directories into folders like popup drawers. There are also modified skins for ObjectDock to get rid of the Mac OS X look and literally turn icons into buttons. WinCustomize has a hefty collection of icons for ObjectDock.