Skyrim fresh out of the box installed on a new desktop pc started crashing to the desktop without any error warning. Time between crashes was running from 10 minutes to maybe an hour and a half, averaging about 2 crashes per hour over all. My desktop has great specs and is running Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. I tried lower graphics settings (Default), simpler sound settings (44.1 MHz 16-bit) and running in Steam “off-line mode” with no improvement.
The solution that worked for a while was running the game directly from the TESV.exe file found in the Steam folder (C:Program Files (x86)/Steam/Steamapps/common/skyrim/). No more crashes (until I got to about level 30 — then crashes as before). I then tried the so-called 4Gb mod (available here) which includes a new executable file to launch the game (bypassing Bethesda’s launcher). This corrected the crashes for now. I created a shortcut to the skyrim4Gb.exe file and pinned it to my taskbar for convenience. I’m back to running at Ultra graphics settings with no crashes.
Update: Betheseda’s latest game patch (126.96.36.199) broke the crash fix but a newer version of the 4Gb mod (1.4) fixed it again.
Final Update: After the Dec. 20th version 1.3.10 game update the 4Gb loader is no longer necessary and my problem with crashing is fixed.