There are a number of things that you can do to control your computer when you start it. They all relate to how you use your computer.
First thing to do is click Start and locate the Control Panel. (incidentally I keep a shortcut icon on my desk top for easy access) Click the Taskbar tab and you have a number of options to look at. First you can lock the Taskbar so that all the icons will stay in place. If screen space is a priority to you, auto hide the taskbar and it will disappear blow the bottom of your screen, dropping your mouse pointer to that area of the screen will restore it. It did not go away!
The icons on the taskbar can change here as well, mine are small.
The taskbar can be relocated to another area of your desktop, default is at the bottom, but if it looks better to you on a different side, click on the tiny down arrow in the box and select where you like it to go.
Just below that you will see a choice for how your taskbar buttons appear. Click your choice. You can always change it back.
Below that you can customize what icons will show up in the notification area. With this you can control just how many icons are on the taskbar. You can get a huge amount and then you will need to poke through them when you need one. Reduce them to what you use all the time.
Windows 7 comes with a little button at the lowest and farthest left right beside the time clock. See it? If you have the little box checked off under Aero Peek, you can use that feature. It is handy when you need to see the desk top for a moment, or if you click on the peek button, all the open windows will be minimized! Cool new feature in Windows 7.