The Dock may not be perfect, but with the new Exposé in Snow Leopard, I think it is quite better than the task bar. And even while both are clumsy, I don't think paying $15 for uBar—which is 32-bits, and crashes badly in Mac OS X 10.6—is the solution. However, if you are into bondage, domination, sadomasochism, and the whole "Start" menu thingie, this is your funeral, kiddos. [Brawersoft]
As a Mac user, I have to say that the only reason I dislike OS X is because the Dock is nowhere near as good a solution as the Windows Taskbar. Sure, I've linked my Apps folder onto the dock to give myself a menu, but the icon just looks like a folder holding my address book. Also, it does not categorize my applications. If I tried to do that, my programs would be broken unless I built a folder of aliases. The Windows method of finding and launching your programs is more intuitive, organized, and convenient. Although I would not pay to have a taskbar piggybacked onto OS X, a free alternative that duplicates the functionality of the Windows version would be better than what we have now. Although I have become accustomed to navigating and customizing it, the Dock is still more cosmetic than functional.
Apple would do well to try and copy Microsoft on this. It's one of the few things I will agree that they do better. We should stop pretending that every aspect of OS X is superior to everything on the market. Most Windows users will admit to the flaws in the product. Maybe they would give OSX a chance if we we didn't pretend that every aspect of it was gold.
Hopefully the next version of OS X will actually provide users with something better than the Dock. Still waiting for a dramatically different OS upgrade from Apple. I wonder how many iterations of X we will have to go through before that happens.