After installing a piece of software, it can be very annoying when the new program invites itself into your Windows Notification Area and starts up whenever you start the computer.
Some programs have the courtesy to ask if you want to allow this action (the answer will almost invariably be 'no'), but some software developers apparently believe that denying you the option is perfectly acceptable.
It's hardly the end of the world, but whe there are several programs doing this, it can slow down your computer unnecessarily. Fortunately, Vista's built-in anti-spyware program, Windows Defender, has a special tool- Software Explorer - for dealing with such applications.
THIS IS THE NOTIFICATION Area - the part of the Windows Taskbar where you'll find a collection of icons, usually including a clock and speaker. To make it easierto see in our screenshot. we stacked our Notification Area on four levels by expanding the Taskbar but, by default, these icons are spread out in one long line. Other icons will also appear here as you install more software. In many cases, this invasion is completely unnecessary. It offers no real benefits while slowing down the PC by using up memory. This particular Notification Area has become quite cluttered and, as a consequence, the computer won't start up or perform as quickly as it can.
AS A TEMPORARY SOLUTION, these programs can be closed by simply right-clicking on the icon in question and clicking either Close or Exit (whichever term each program happens to use). Remember to pay careful attention to what is closed: some icons can't be closed from here - the clock, network icon or volume control, for example. Other programs, such as Quicktime, can be closed. This doesn't mean Quicktime files will no longer play, simply that the program has been stopped until it's actually needed.
WITH THE NOTIFICATION AREA tidied up, it's time to take a look at Windows Defender's Software Explorer facility. To do this,launch Windows Defender by clicking on the Start button, followed by All Programs, and find the Windows Defender shortcut with the other shortcuts above the list of installed software. These program icons are in alphabetical order, so it's among all the other programs with a 'Windows' prefix. Click the link and the main Windows Defender interface will appear. Now click the Tools link at the top, followed by Software Explorer in the main window.
WHEN SOFTWARE EXPLORER STARTS. Windows will attempt to categorise the programs it finds. While it does this. make sure the Category dropdown (in the upper left) reads Startup Programs. This is the default. so it should be set. If not. simply click the dropdown and select Startup Programs. Now take a look at the main window - it's split in two. On the left is a list of programs that start when Windows launches; on the right is more detailed information about individual programs. This is useful for determining if a program should be allowed to start when Windows does.
TO STOP PROGRAMS LOADING with Windows, click either the Disable or Remove buttons. We strongly suggest disabling any unwanted programs. That way, if something turns out to be required. you can simply enable it again. Work your way down the list of programs and with each unwanted one, simply click on it in the left-hand pane, then click the Disable button in the bottom right. Do this for anything you wish to disable. Ensure anti-virus software is not disabled, nor anything that might stop hardware working correctly (such as an Audio Control Panel).
WITH THAT DONE, CLOSE Windows Defender by clicking the 'X' in the top right corner and either carry on using your computer as normal. or restart it to see how much faster the Desktop loads (and how many of the icons now don't appear in the Notification Area). Certain programs have an annoying habit of reinviting themselves, so if this happens you might want to consider searching for an alternative, as such behaviour should not be encouraged - especially if there are alternatives available .