solved some time ago LOL
my homepage address had changed and IE kept opening new windows looking for the new address
I had two machines develop this problem within two days of one another. Seems only to occur after hibernation - and I think it all started after a MS update.
I run current AVG pro on both machines as well as adaware scans and ran Stinger on one of the machines. Nothing to report.
All of my research suggests a trojan but there isn't much out there about this error and the cause is speculative.