Have you tried to uncheck hide inactive icons? Right click on the start button, select properties then the taskbar tab. Uncheck the hide inactive icons and be sure to click on apply.
My problem is based here: Right click your Task Bar, select Properties (opens up Task Bar and Start Menu Properties) > Customize (button for hiding inactive icons)
Windows never remembers what I select in the Customize Notifications dialog box! Icons that I select to 'Always show' some how end up as 'Hide when inactive'. Why does this happen and how can I fix this? Are there any freeware (or shareware) aps around that deal with this area of Windows? There's also references to programs I no longer have installed within the menu. How can I remove them? Perhaps and ap that does that as well would be cool.