Click the start button and then RIGHT click on a blank area of the green or blue (in pro version) at the bottom iunder All Programs. Click on the Properite box that comes up then on Start Menu, Task Bar, Customize (at the bottom again. you will be presented with a list of startup items. Click on the Behaviour of each one and you are given a list of alternatives for the way these appear.
This will hide the items. Be very careful about disabling anything unless you are certain of what you're doing.
Sounds complex but dead easy really.