I realize this is a rather old topic, but I found two variations that are rather interesting.
1. Using a notepad or text editor, create a script file with this content:
2. Save it and name as "Desktop.scf".
3. Create a blank text file, then rename it "showdesktop.exe".
4. Create a new folder, under "documents" and call it whatever you wish (e.g. "custom").
5. Put that "showdesktop.exe" and "Desktop.scf" files in the new folder.
5. Now on the bottom task bar, right mouse click and select "Toolbars", then "New toolbar", and select the folder you just made. Also select to "unlock" the task bar.
6. The content of that folder, "showdesktop.exe", will appear as an icon when you click the ">>" to open. Select its properties and then change it to "Desktop.scf", preserving the proper path to it.
7. For the properties of this toolbar, uncheck the Show Text and Show Title. The show desktop shortcut icon will show now by default.
8. You can move this toolbar to the left of the pinned task bar icons and you're done.
You can simply go and get the Quick Launch toolbar. It's on your system as it was on Vista, just tucked away out of sight.
1. Right click on the taskbar, select "Toolbars" and then "New Toolbar".
2. For the folder, refer to the following path:
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch. It will now appear on your task bar.
3. Right mouse click this new toolbar and uncheck "show text" and "show title".
4. You can now move this to the far left and you've got your Quick Launch back, complete with "Show Desktop" and "Switch between windows" shortcuts. You can customize it as you wish, of course. The only real drawback with the Quick Launch is that it doesn't highlight the shortcut when the application is active, as the pinned icons do.
While Microsoft introduced an interesting variation putting the Aero "show/peek desktop" button on the far right, it's idiotic that it wasn't put immediately to the left of the Start Menu, where your mouse cursor travels to most frequently. Tossing it to the far right means frequent left-right screen edge travel. Why make the user work harder? Nuts.
Also, the pinned task bar icons have too much space around them even when selected for the "small" size. The Quick Launch icons appear nicely compact. If the pinned icons appeared this way, there really wouldn't be a need to restore the Quick Launch.