The removal of the address-bar-on-taskbar for XP SP3 was a right pain. Where previously I'd enjoy keeping an address bar down there for easy URL input or even using it as a temporary clipboard for jotting down a phone number, after SP3 a third-party application is required. This is reportedly due to the ongoing anti-trust debacle between Microsoft and the EU, who are happily trying to prevent Microsoft from integrating Internet Explorer with bloody everything.
Thing is, what does the address bar have to do with it? Ignore for a moment that the well-intentioned EU case led merely to the release of a stripped-down Windows E that nobody bought and thus was hardly successful, but the address bar itself had not much to do with IE. If one's default browser is Firefox and an URL is entered onto this address bar, Firefox is brought up.
I'm told that Microsoft fancied being safe rather than sorry, assuming that no-one really used the feature anyway and hoping to avoid any ambiguity on it by simply removing it altogether. But I have to wonder if the intention here was really to generate an international ream of "this EU case has crippled my workflow!" and thus get people on Microsoft's side over the entire thing. I have to admit, until you realise that at no stage did the courts order the corporate giant to strip out this useful feature, my first reaction was one of "well perhaps it's going a bit too far after all…"