anyone would have come up with that given just a bit of time. Personally, I didn't have a problem with how the OS/2 task list popped up on key stroke command and still think it's a waste of time/space showing the tasks at the bottom or top of the screen. If you recall, OS/2 3 had a task launcher at the bottom of the desktop. It wasn't docked to the screen edge but it wasn't bad with with little drawers which popped up/out to show more options.
I really think Microsoft was using PR instead of real research when they came up with the 95 desktop UI. At the time, OS/2's Workplace Shell was an amazing object oriented desktop with independent folder color settings, folder background settings, developer inheritance so all the bells/whistles you expect from a folder would be part of a new folder which might have a split view. I just recall how many times Microsoft claimed lots of money was spent on research when nearly everything they ended up with was sub standard from what others had already done. Unfortunately I don't think we'll ever get to where OS/2 or NEXT was 20 years ago.