Asus predicts the Windows XP-based Eee PC will outsell the original Linux-based version by a ratio of 3:2 by the end of this year, a heady prediction considering the Windows machine could cost nearly twice as much as the cheapest Linux one.

The company has forecast Eee PC shipments at around 5 million units this year. Based on the 3:2 ratio the company predicts, Asus could ship around 3 million Windows Eee PCs and 2 million Linux versions.

"A lot of people have been waiting for the Windows version," said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, at a news conference in Taipei today.

See also:

XP-based Eee PC: UK price & availability revealed

The company is selling two different versions of the Windows Eee PC laptop. The cheapest one, the Eee PC Surf XP, costs NT$12,499 (£205) in Taiwan, has a 7in LCD screen, 4GB of NAND flash memory for storage, and 512MB of DDR2 DRAM. The more expensive version, the Eee PC 4G XP, costs NT$14,490 (£240) and includes an additional 4GB SD card for storage as well as a slightly better battery able to last up to 3.5 hours, vs 2.8 hours for the cheaper model. It also has a 3Mp webcam.

The laptops both run on Intel Pentium M 650MHz to 900MHz chips and weigh less than 1kg.

The lowest cost Eee PC available runs on a Linux OS from Xandros, carries just 2GB of NAND flash for storage and sells for around NT$7,999 (£130) in Taiwan. The cheapest model costs around £220 in the UK.

Asus formally launched the Eee PC with XP on board at the CeBIT trade show earlier this month, in Germany. The devices can be found at stores or online in most countries, but prices vary slightly depending on local costs, taxes and duties, said Jose Liao, head of Taiwan sales for Asus.

See also:

Asus Eee PC review