In Microsoft Windows, many aspects of the GUI are operated by the explorer.exe program. It handles the "Windows Explorer" windows, normal "folder" windows (i.e. opening "My Computer"), the desktop, as well as the task bar. It is not fun when this program crashes. If this is annoying for you (for me annoying is more than never), here are some tips.

After a crash, sometimes explorer.exe will be automatically restarted. If it doesn't and you don't have any explorer.exe links to open, you'll have to use the Task Manager -> Run to start it. Under Windows 2000 this is control-shift-escape or control-alt-del then "Task Manager".

One thing that supposedly helps, but that I haven't seen any difference with, is checking "Launch folder windows in a separate process." Seems like Microsoft would have designed this option just for people whose Windows Explorer crashes. It takes a lot more RAM for every extra process started.

When your task bar crashes, all the system tray icons disappear (except certain programs which add themselves to the system tray every second just for this reason.). You can use this tool published by PC Magazine that will try to save your icons (it doesn't work 100%): .