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Alternatives for the clock
The time's in the taskbar, but can be customized in many ways. For one thing, if you're not in a hurry, you can disable it (taskbar settings). But you can also customize it, rebuild it somewhere else or replace it with any of these (skinnable) clocks that are available:
 
Systray clock enhancements
Besides changing the bitmap on your startmenu and startbutton, this nifty app called Tclock let's you also (or, as the name indicates, it's the main function...) customize the format, font, size of the normal clock, and add alarms (sounds and flickering). Beta 2.2.9 adds a nice gradient option (free, and check out v2).

Another freeware utility that handles this, and lets you add some color, is TclockEx (free, all versions). It adds a resource monitor to the clock too.

Also pretty advanced is 1st Clock. Shareware, "light" version available. "Features include: alarms, atomic time synchronization, time zones, popup calendar, quick reminders, performance monitoring, copy to clipboard, swatch time and more..."

Chameleon Clock (shareware, Win 95/NT4) is skinnable, lets you use bitmaps in the systray.

A free alternative, though a bit more limited, is Nerium (free, Win 9x/2k) does it. Displays simple time or swatch time derived from a single bitmap with the numbers.

Maybe not very practical, but a fun thing anyway is QuickClock (free, Win 9x/2k) is an analog systray clock, the size of an 16 x 16 icon!
Clocks elsewhere
You can put it at the active window caption bar all the time with TitleTime (free, all versions). It automatically takes the used font and colors, looks like it was meant to be there all the time.

And there's another (app formerly known as) TitleTime, made by Base 2 at Binary Productions (free, all versions (though not compliant with XP styles)). It aligns to the right, which I like better, but has a background color which messes up the gradiŽnt. Not available and/or under development anymore, find the file here (21 kB).

Latest release that can add the clock here is CapTime by Kobi (also author of The Clock, below). But it can do a little more, like add and remove text, very cool!

If you don't mind using the standard cursor, you can have the time hanging underneath it all the time with CursorClock ("spare-ware", Win 95/NT).
Desktop clocks
Then, there's a lot of standalone clocks, more or less skinnable.

A good choice would be Beatnik, made by Something Decent Software, free. Any shape is possible, it has animation and you can check your time at an atomic clock.

CreativEngine's @Time (free, for Win 9x/NT) has four custom sizes. Skins are resticted to those and the format, but it looks good nonetheless.

Another one is Tyme (formerly Cust'o'clock). This clock is getting more and more features, but is still easy to handle, and free.

Originally meant to replace Cust'o'clock, snocorp created QuickClock, cool and free.

And there's QX, by Janne West. Very basic skinnable clock, but has some unique options. It doesn't have to be a clock if you don't want it too, it can display some text of your own and all this: time, date, uptime, free/used space on any drive and your own IP number. All this in any combination you'd like. A doubleclick will display a second set of information and it has some alarm options too.

Next, Jugg's Time & Date, free. The result's simple, but there's a lot of settings. Basically it allows you to have the date and time in every possible combination, with or without background (color of bitmap), with the font you like anywhere on the desktop. If you find that link dead still, file is here (1.48 Mb).

The Hamsin clock, free, has about the same options: any font, any color, any/no background (no bitmaps), with or without border, any format, and adds some advanced alarm/scheduling options too!

The Clock (free, Win 9x) is yet another skinnable clock, but totally freeform, which means you can make it to be analog too!

JS Time, free, is also analog, though not skinnable. But it can be customized: change colors, use a bitmap, display date and digital time, there's reminders and more.

An analog clock being able to use an animated .gif as a background (that's just one of the options), is Candy Clock, free.

"Ghrone is a skinnable translucent clock, that uses the transparency functionality of Windows 2000/XP (...). Ghrone displays the time on top of all other windows or on the desktop, unobtrusively (depending on the skin you use and your personal settings)."
Alarms, schedulers, calendars
Banshee Screamer is a skinnable, free alarm clock. Some advanced options and skin format.

A very configurable desktop calendar is Rainlendar, free. Besides lots of display options you can define background image and assign images for months and such, instead of fonts. It's meant for litestep, but it's an executable, so can be used in explorer.

"PKTimer is a small (but powerful) freeform skinnable alarm clock. It can work on two ways: as a countdown or on a pre-set time."

Calenz is a fully skinnable calendar and reminder, some cool skins available. Donationware.

"A dynamic semi-transparent calendar on your desktop with an ability to add notes/reminders to each date + wallpaper-changer + email-checker. All in one compact package utilizing the same semi-transparency technology. You can still use your favorite wallpaper images in the background because the dynamic calendar is beautifully merged into them." Cool indeed, but comes with a price: Wallpaper Calendar.

At Carbon 6 Studios you'll find CarbonAlarm: "You can select almost any type of digital music filetype or playlist. CarbonAlarm will 'go off' at the exact time (+/- one or two seconds) that you have specified within its interface. (...) The Skinnable form is completely freeform, supporting transparency in all aspects."
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