Edit: A hotfix has been released. An official workaround, courtesy of Microsoft Senior SDET hero Tripp Parks, is now available for those experiencing Windows 8 freezing issues. Simply open an elevated command prompt, issue the following command, and reboot:
bcdedit /set disabledynamictick yes
It's still unclear what the exact issue is, but we can now surmise from this tweak that there's definitely an issue with Windows and hardware compatibility -- specifically dealing with the Windows clock and processor dynamic ticking.
Okay, but what are dynamic ticks? Do I need them?
Very generally speaking, (I'm not a hardware expert), your PC's processor -- like a clock -- ticks at a certain rate. These ticks are received by the OS to perform various tasks and push paper around. When your PC is idle, however, this constant ticking and interrupting of the OS eats time and power.
Cue dynamic ticking.
This new concept involves the processor coalescing or batching together ticks when idle, only delivering them when a more interesting event occurs. In other words, the processor gets to hit the snooze button a few more times before waking up.
(Hey, remember my previous memory dump showed processors in idle states? Interesting.)
So wait, won't turning this off eat more power/be less efficient?
Very likely. But it appears the new dynamic ticking feature in Windows 8 has a bug in it. So turning it off should revert you back to behavior similar to what's on Windows 7 until a fix comes out or a newer build becomes available.