Depending on whats in the system and whats installed it could well be normal. I have 37 on average. If you have an HP, Compaq or Dell..you can have upwards of the high 40's as they install alot of junk that runs in the background. If your concerned download hijackthis (link in my signature) and post your log in the HJT section and someone will take a look for you.
How many icons do you have on the lower right hand corner of your machine?
In the 40 to 50 range is not unusual these days with all the extras you many folks need to run, such as anti virus, non MS firewall, Winzip, phone or PDA sync software, Quicktime or Real player and so on.
Fewer task is better, but not always possible.
I would say if you have more than 50 I would clearly start to look at what is going on.
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