I finally figured out why IE7 has been opening slow for the past few weeks. At first, I blamed it on the fact that I have a totally wireless connection now on my desktop due to my current living situation. But that was not the problem. Then I decided to search Google for answers to IE7 slowness and I discovered some discussions but none related to me. So, I decided to add another hard drive to my PC with Vista preloaded on it to see if IE7 was still slow. And of course, it opened within 2 seconds (unlike the 17 second delay I had been experiencing).
side note: Firefox was slow as well.
The only difference besides the fact that this was a bare bones Windows Vista setup is that I did not have an Anti-virus program installed yet. Up until now, I had been using Computer Associates Internet Suite (free from Brighthouse). I had a stripped down version of only the Virus protection since Windows Defender is enabled by default on Vista. I decided to install the free version of AVG for Virus protection. Guess what....IE7 still opened within 2 seconds!
I guess I must have never noticed the slowdown or it just started. Maybe from the latest updates from Computer Associates. Anyway....AVG is now my virus protection software of choice for Windows Vista.