Using the Windows key (WinKey) + a number will bring up items on your taskbar. For instance I have IE, Product Studio, Outlook, and Wmplayer on my taskbar. If I hit WinKey+1 it will bring up IE, if I hit Winkey+4 it will bring up Windows media player. I thought this was really cool as I have a lot of taskbar shortcuts.
There are some other new things, like Winkey+tab will do the flip 3d, and ctrl+alt+tab will bring up the switcher menu so you can use the arrow keys, but I think the one I mentioned above takes the cake for shortcuts...
Yes - cool feature ... I use that on my XP machine with an external tool: Winkey (http://www.copernic.com/winkey/)
Another feature I like is having a "menu" on my taskbar:
- create a directory with some links to programs or documents you like
- context menu of the taskbar | "??" (in German "Symbolleisten", 1st entry of the menu) | New ?? ... | choose the new directory.
I think that there will probably be a sidebar gadget that will do what your looking for, if not then build one. :)