I don't think this is something you'd want to use for every app - after all that's what a task bar is far - but it *could* be handy for creating custom "groups" of apps, if you want, sort of like custom desktops (except I find those more cumbersome than I'm imagining this to be). This would be similar to XP's default "group similar taskbar items" I suppose, except I hate that. This would at least be customizable - only the apps you chose would end up in a given container. So for example let's say I'm working on coding a web page. I have my design app open (Nvu), 3 or more browsers for testing (Firefox, Opera, IE), a graphics app for doing my web images (ImageReady perhaps), and at least one and probably several folders open for quick file access. Now I also have my email app, Winamp, IM client (with multiple chat windows - could be tabbed, but I prefer not), 2 VNC windows, and a Word file open. A good half of the icons on my taskbar could be "collapsed" into one with a system like that suggested. It would be my "web design workspace" so to speak.
Now in itself that doesn't sound all *that* cool. Here's where it gets more interesting though. What if you could save the "sessions", just like Opera (or any other competent tabbed browser)? So let's say I have the previously mentioned "Working on a web page" workspace. I save it, and then I can just re-open it at any time and it brings up all the same apps, so I'm immediately ready to work on a web page again. Super cool! It would be very useful just to launch the apps all together in a neutral state, but even better if it could actually re-load previously loaded data. And along those lines let's see if we can go a step further - could such an app literally "save state", sort of like a workspace-specific "Hibernate" mode (Windows 2000/XP)? That would truly be awesome! With lots of HD space you could temporarily shut down memory-intensive apps to do something else, like play a game for example when you had just been working in Photoshop, and then just jump right back to where you were after you're done by loading the session. Obviously loading the session would take a little while, but not *that* long - coming back from hibernation doesn't even take that long on a 3GB machine (my main system here).
So, now does this sound more promising?
Ok yes it's probably well beyond the scope of a coding snack now, but even the first idea, if possible, could be useful for some, especially those who don't like working with multi-desktop systems.