Asus predicts the Eee PC it has started selling with Microsoft Windows XP Home edition on board will outsell the original Linux-based version by a ratio of 6 to 4 in the market by the end of this year.

This is a heady prediction considering the Windows machine costs nearly twice as much as the cheapest Linux one.

The company has forecast Eee PC shipments at around five million [M] units this year. Based on the 6 to 4 ratio the company predicts, Asus could ship around three million Windows Eee PCs and two million Linux ones.

"A lot of people have been waiting for the Windows version," said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus.

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 (£202), has a 7-inch LCD screen, 4GB of NAND flash memory for storage, and 512MB of DDR2 DRAM (double data rate, second generation, dynamic RAM). The more expensive version, the Eee PC 4G XP, costs NT$14,490 (£234) and includes an additional 4GB SD (secure digital) card for storage as well as a slightly better battery able to last up to 3.5 hours, versus 2.8 hours for the cheaper model, and a built on 3-megapixel digital camera.

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

The lowest cost Eee PC available runs on a Linux OS from Xandros, carries just 2G-bytes of NAND flash for storage and sells for around NT$7,999 (£129).

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.