Edit: I have solved this issue. Unsurprisingly, the issue was fundamentally different from my original hypotheses - a bug in my SSD's firmware was causing it to shut down after precisely an hour of use. Programs would then lock up, one at a time, as they attempted and failed to access their data. A simple firmware upgrade resolved the issue entirely. Thanks for the help!
Windows 8 has recently (since this past weekend or so) started to freeze up every once in a while. Symptomatically, it appears very similar to this issue - I even have the Sandy Bridge processor and SSD that most victims of that issue had.
- I've been using Windows 8 for weeks with few issues until now.
- I rebooted into safe mode (with networking) and browsed on Chrome for a while. The computer did lock up.
- I used Windows 8's 'Refresh' functionality. I began reconfiguring my OS, getting as far as reinstalling Nvidia graphics drivers, Steam and VS2012 (none of which were ever launched during the safe mode excursion) before a freeze occurred. No updates had been installed to Windows yet (but I did download a new image from DreamSpark...) and I hadn't yet installed Chrome.
- Not certain this will be helpful, but - it's frozen a couple of times while playing a game with (I believe) GPU-accelerated physics. Every time, the game has frozen and become unresponsive - but the physics objects (my character's cape, the tails of horses, etc.) keep moving.
Is a system reset a worthwhile thing to attempt? Should I contact my laptop's manufacturer?