White label 1.4GHz Duron, 2x256MB SDR (PC133) mem, XP SP2, IE7. About 3-4 days ago things went to hell. Various indications led me to overheating or memory problems. After vacuum/blowing, general cleaning, and swapping some memory around, I was able to somewhat stabilize the system enough to run the repair from my XP CD. Today I bought two new 512MB mem sticks and have reloaded IE. Things seem to be working again, except IE. When I try to run it, I get the blue screen and the Stop Code 0x0000008e. I uninstalled IE on the way to a complete reinstall. But the desktop link remained, and started IE (with the same crash). I found the IE directory in Program Files, and tried to simply delete it. XP says it is in use. So I started deleting files one by one to see which was in use. When I delete IE.exe, about 15 seconds later it reappears. Same for other -.exe and some -.dll files.
Chicken and egg problem: I have a SonicWall firewall, with enforced McAfee. It won't let this machine on the internet without a current load of the AntiVirus. I can only load that with IE. And the first indication I had that there was a serious problem was when the AntiVirus was disabled and I couldn't re-enable it. I was able to install it anew once, before IE quite working, but that fresh copy was immediately disabled. I can allow this machine access through the SonicWall, but have been reluctant to do so with NO protection other than the XP firewall (if that even runs now). I have other machines on my home network, and a NAS to which I can save utilities to run on this machine. Neither of the other two machines has a problem, so it hasn't propogated within the internal network (yet?).
Maybe related issue: Task manager shows that one of the svchost.exe is using 95%-97% of the CPU, with the idle task never running. All this started shortly after installing MS Office Home & Student and Outlook. I'm new to Outlook, and Office was a necessary upgrade from Office 97 which I've tried to use as little as possible. I can terminate that instance of svchost with no apparent problem, and the idle task immediately shows the 95%-97% use.
I'm hoping this is all familiar to someone on the forum. Thanks for any offers of help.