Microsoft is now shipping both Windows 8 and the new Microsoft-branded Surface RT tablet.

Windows 8 comes in 3 versions – Windows 8, Pro and Enterprise.   All versions include the new touch user interface that is geared toward tablets, convertibles and ultrabooks from a variety of manufacturers.

Microsoft is also shipping their own tablet, the Surface RT, which is designed to compete with the Apple iPad in the consumer marketplace.  The Surface contains an ARM-based processor and runs new, tablet applications but won’t be able to run x86 applications.   A professional-grade Surface Pro tablet which runs x86 applications is expected to launch early next year.  However, as noted above, a variety of manufacturers  are shipping their own Pro devices today.

Paul Thurrott has an excellent comparison of RT and Pro tablets on his blog.

As reported previously on this blog, I’ve been running Windows 8 for the past 6 months on a number of PCs with positive results.  While none of my laptops are touchscreen, I have an HP multitouch monitor that I have connected to my laptop to get a feel for the touch experience. I’m interested in purchasing an ultrabook with a touchscreen.

In a related note, Microsoft is shipping Windows Phone 8 on October 28 to compete with Android, iOS and BlackBerry in the smartphone market.  October is a big month for Microsoft announcements.

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