If you need to extend the shell and a GUI is a must, band objects are the way to go. Band objects are only available with shell versions 4.71 and later. This means that to use them, you need to have installed Internet Explorer 4.0 or later with the shell integration option selected (this is built into Windows 2000 by default). Well, actually, that isn’t entirely true. If you haven’t installed shell integration, you are limited to using band objects with Internet Explorer. In other words, you’re restricted to Internet-only applications. But, hey, that might not be so bad, right? The Internet is a big place. Just be aware that with the shell integration installed, you have the ability to write band objects that take advantage of your “local” needs as well.
Band objects come in several flavors: Explorer bands (also called Explorer bars), Communication bands, and Desk bands. There is also an additional band type called a Tool band. All four bands are implemented in exactly the same way. The distinction between them lies in where the bands are displayed. Explorer bars are displayed vertically on the left side of Explorer. Examples of system-defined Explorer bands include the Search, Favorites, History, and Folders bands. These can be accessed by selecting View → Explorer Bar in Explorer’s main menu. The remaining band objects are:
An example of a Communication band is the Tip of the Day band, which is accessed from the same menu.