Reader Bill is having a problem with Internet Explorer 8 on his Windows XP system: Whenever he runs the browser, it pops open for just a second or two, then immediately closes again.
Now that's what I call a busted browser.
This kind of problem occurs when Internet Explorer gets "corrupted," meaning there's been some kind of damage to one or more of the files that make the program work. Microsoft has documented the issue, which apparently occurs with IE7, IE8, and even IE9 (way to make progress, there, Microsoft). Their solution: to uninstall and then reinstall the browser.
Unfortunately for Bill, he's already tried that--several times. That leaves two options. First, consider wiping your system and reinstalling Windows. I know that sounds like overkill for a problem like this, but it's something every user needs to do from time to time--and you'll net a faster, like-new system for your trouble. Here's a PC World guide to reinstalling and restoring your Windows PC.
Second, give up on Internet Explorer. I've mentioned this option before in response to others who've had problems with their browser. IE doesn't work? Try Firefox. Having trouble with Firefox? Try Chrome. Any replacement browser will allow you to import all your bookmarks, so the transition should be fairly simple (even if you will have to learn a slightly different interface).
I realize this doesn't solve the actual problem with IE, but it does give you a fast, easy, and effective workaround.