Taiwan's Asustek said on Tuesday it will sell its new low-cost laptop PCs to consumers for as little as T$7,999 ($245) apiece, as it takes aim at more casual users in developed markets.

The new line of notebooks, called Eee PCs, will retail from T$7,999 to T$13,888, with Asustek targeting women and children for consumer sales, President Jonathan Tsang said at an event to launch the new line.

In developing markets, the company will target larger buyers such as governments and educational organisations, selling the Eee PCs for as little as US$199 apiece.

Because these are coming out relatively late, we expect to ship 200,000 this year, he said. That should be reasonable. Next year we're going to ship over 3 million units.

The new line of PCs will initially be available in English and classical Chinese versions, the latter for sale in Taiwan. Versions in simplified Chinese, which is used in China, and French, German and Italian, will follow.

In a significant development, Asustek said it would also offer a version of the ultra low-cost PCs with Microsoft's Windows operating system, after initially saying that all the computers would carry the open-source, free Linux system.

Windows versions of the computer would cost about T$1,000 more than Linux versions, leading many to say that Microsoft had offered the Windows systems at a big discount from its usual price of T$2,000 to T$3,000 for mass buyers.

The Eee PCs will carry Asustek's brand name, as the Taiwan firm seeks to follow in the footsteps of hometown rival Acer in trying to develop a globally recongised brand.

The firm is in the process of separating its branded business from its manufacturing business, the latter of which makes laptops for not only the Asustek line, but also major global vendors like Apple Inc and Dell Inc.

Among the 7 million notebook PCs the company aims to ship this year, some 4.2 million laptops will carry its own name, up sharply from 2.7 million units last year.

Asustek Chairman Jonney Shih said the company has high hopes for the Eee PC line, which could possibly make up as much as 20 percent of the global market for laptop PC sales by 2010.