If you're up for trying something neat, though experimental, you should take a look at Nucleus by Singular Labs. It adds a toolbar to the top of the Windows desktop that provides links to popular document folders, Gmail notifications and a handy "terminal" to quickly start and close applications and perform basic calculations.
Nucleus is in alpha right now, but at v0.2.0, it already shows a lot of promise. Upon starting the program a new toolbar is added to the top of the desktop -- a feature that will look familiar to users of Linux's various graphical front-ends.
The left-most button provides many options you can find via the Start button, however, it also contains one handy feature -- a place to enter Gmail details. Once provided, you'll receive desktop notifications when you new email arrives.
On the far right of the bar you'll see the words "Terminal". Clicking here will make a small white window appear, where you can type in a limited set of commands. Typing "calc", followed by an equation, will provide you with the answer, while "run" and the path to a program will launch that program and "kill" combined with a process name ("chrome.exe") terminates it.
It's not feature-rich by any means, but it shows a lot of promise. It also has a few quirks, the most notable being that closing the toolbar also restarts Explorer, so any open folder windows will be closed.
Nucleus is certainly an interesting project and hopefully it can expand its capabilities and provide a robust, productivity-boosting complement to the Start button and taskbar.