Windows likes to change things up when they release a new version of Windows. Some may say it's to make things easier to use and others may say it's to make the operating system look more different to justify charging you money for a new version of Windows. Maybe it's a little of both.
If you have been using Windows before Windows XP came out I'm sure the first thing you noticed about XP was the new start menu. Some people like it and some people don't but either way it takes a little time to get used to the new interface If you are one of the people who don’t like it then it's easy to change back to the older style which Microsoft calls the Classic Start Menu. Sometimes change is not a good thing and if it works, don't mess with it.
Here you can see the new XP start menu. Notice that when you click on Start it shows you your most commonly opened programs as well as programs that are pinned to the Start Menu. On the right there are shorcuts to get to items such as your documents and pictures as well as the Control Panel and Printers.
And here you can see the Classic start menu which just has the basics such as Programs, Settings, Run and your shutdown options.
The easiest way to get to the start menu settings is to right click on the taskbar and choose Properties. You can also go to Start, Settings, Control Panel and then Taskbar and Start Menu. Here you will see several options you can change.
The Lock the taskbar option allows you to lock the taskbar in place so it can’t be moved and also so you can’t stretch out the quick launch icons section on the left side of the taskbar.
The Auto-hide the taskbar setting makes the taskbar disappear until you hold the mouse over it.
The Keep the taskbar on top of other windows option makes the taskbar always visible by not allowing other windows to cover it.
The Group similar taskbar buttons option keeps similar items in a group. For example if you have 2 web browsers open at the same time it would only have one button on the taskbar.
The show Quick Launch option will display the Quick Launch icons that show up on the left side of the taskbar for easy access.
The Show the clock option does exactly that, shows the clock on the right side of the taskbar.
Finally the Hide inactive icons option will cover icons in your system tray that are not used often. The system tray contains the icons of running programs next to the clock.
To swtich from the new XP start menu to the Classic start menu you can click on the Start Menu tab and select the menu type you wish to use.
The default Windows Start Menu has different options than the classic version that may be beneficial to you. The General tab lets you do things such as adjust the size of your icons, decide how many shortcuts for recent programs get pinned to the Start Menu and if you want to display Internet Explorer or Outlook as well.
The Advanced Tab gives you more options as to what you want to display on the Start Menu and lets you fine tune these items. If you don't want to have your recently opened documents displayed on the documents sub menu then you can uncheck the box that says List my most recently opened documents.