To return the icons to your desktop, right click anywhere on the desktop and select properties. When Display Properties opens, select the Desktop tab and hit the "Customize Desktop" button toward the bottom of the screen. Here you can select the Desktop icons.
A few days ago I had some problems with WIN XP PRO, which I solved. Now I notice that my "desktop" icons don't show on the desktop; they only show in a desktop window. I've noticed this on a couple of other XP systems lately. I've tried the obvious stuff, such as making sure icons are visible etc. (by the way, any shortcut manually put on the desktop shows up; I just can't get the standard "my computer", "network places", and so on, to show up unless I make a shortcut to them. If I put a shortcut to these on the desktop, I wind up with multiple selections in the my computer folder etc, and a hassle when trying to right click to use the context menu; I get the typical shortcut properties menu instead). Oddly enough, the Internet explorer icon shows up on the desktop, but not the Outlook Express, even though all the usual icons show up in the desktop window if I access it from, say, drive C window, by clicking on the up arrow. I ought to know this, but I haven't figured it out yet. THought I would see if anyone here knew what to do.