This is mostly for my future reference. I’ve found an interesting problem with Windows XP and ie8 which I’ve confirmed twice now.
If you install a fresh copy of Windows XP and patch it to the most current levels using Windows Update (including SP2, SP3, and ie8) then it will not run any IE add-ins. If you try to “flip” to Microsoft Update, or install Adobe Flash, or any other browser add-in then Internet Explorer will become unresponsive and crash.
Uninstalling ie8 (reverting back to ie6 or ie7) and installing the Flash and MS Update add-ins seems to fix the issue. One of these times I hope to remember this before I spend time fully updating the box.