I've found that by default
winXP will choose msn sites
for both search & start pages,
not to my liking.
I use Internet Explorer-->tools-->internet options->homepage to
change one (to google) which loads completely in one tenth the time.
I use Ad-Aware Messenger Control Plug-in to tame the messenger.
I use SpyBot S&D 1.3 Advanced Mode-->tools-->Browser Pages
to calm the search pages down a little (using google)
That may or may not answer your question.
I also have Firefox as my default Browser.
Start Menu-->set program access & defaults should also help.Your