I started having this problem last September (IE8 under XP). I uninstalled several major software components - applications, device drivers, fonts, etc. (then re-installed most from scratch), after which the problem went away for some months, but reappeared just before Xmas.
This time I just didn't have the energy to go through all that uninstall/reinstall stuff - I never knew which component was critical, and obviously it was likely to fail again later. I switched to Google Chrome - within 1/2 hour I was finding Chrome just as easy to use (and much faster) After a day or so I was fully up to speed with Chrome, and I can't believe I put up with IE8 for so long just to avoid learning a different (and vastly superior) user interface on my browser!
TL;DR: Dump IE8 and switch to Chrome! You won't regret it!