One complaint about IE7 or IE8 I hear often is that it takes so long to open a new tab. In fact IE can open a new tab in a fraction of a second. What slows IE down are buggy or old add-ons such as the old Java SSVHelper BHO or Java Plug-in, which were part of older Java SE installations.
I recommend taking a closer look into the Tools > Manage add-ons dialog and uninstall or disable all add-ons you do not need.
In order to solve the issue with the SSVHelper add-on, uninstall all Java Runtime Environments through the control panel. Afterwards check that all Java add-on were removed. If you need support for Java applets (some bank Web sites require Java applets) install the latest version (currently Version 6 Update 12) from java.com.
Other add-ons which are safe to disable: Research, Adobe PDF Linker Helper, Sun Java Console, Google Toolbar Helper, etc.
Tip: Set your home page and new tab page to "about:blank" to further speed up IE.