Well, I’m not sure if this actually speeds up the ol’ computer, but what I did was take almost everything off the actual desktop and drag it to the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. I then make the desktop an Active Desktop and hide the remaining icons (Network Neighborhood, etc.). Then I set the toolbar to Auto-Hide, meaning it’ll only appear when I move the mouse down there. This doesn’t speed anything up, but it allows me to look at my wonderful, lovely wallpaper without icons and other junk in the way.
As for removing a program from the Start Menu, doing so does not mean you remove said program from the system. So how do you start it if it’s not in the Start Menu? You do what I do - you drag the ol’ icon to the toolbar. When the PC boots up, it looks at the desktop and the Start Menu to see what to load into memory. But if you put those programs you need on the toolbar, only those small icons will actually be loaded.
In addition, if you want to run a program that’s not in your Start Menu or on your desktop, you can click on Run from the Start Menu and browse to that program’s directory and run it from there. No need for DOS.
So I have nothing but shortcuts on my toolbar, and virtually nothing on the ol’ desktop. I even cut down on the shortcuts on the toolbar by only including the ones I really need.
And, of course, if you don’t know the file’s name to launch the program, you can click Start|Programs and find it there rather easily.