Asus chief executive Jerry Shen talked about his expectations for the tablet market ahead of the November 9 launch of the new Asus Transformer Prime. Speaking to DigiTimes, Shen said the company is on track to ship 1.8 million tablets by the end of this year, and said Asus would launch a two additional tablets in February 2012.

The company has already sold 1.2 million tablets between the popular Eee Pad Transformer and the less successful Sliders. With the quad-core Transformer Prime arriving this month, Asus should be able to move the remaining 600,000 units or more by the end of 2011. The netbook/tablet hybrid will be powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC and feature a 10-inch screen, 8.3mm thick chassis, built-in USB, mini-HDMI port, SD slot and 14+ hour battery life. It will also be Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgradable in December, though the tablet will launch with Android 3.x Honeycomb.

Shen didn't elaborate on the two additional models launching early next year, but one is assumed to be the Padfone -- a 4.3-inch smartphone that comes with a 10.1-inch tablet dock -- while the other remains a mystery. It could be a 7-inch Eee Pad Transformer with a lower price tag or perhaps a 3G version of the Transformer Prime.

The CEO was also optimistic about Microsoft's future in the tablet industry with the arrival of Windows 8 next year, claiming its familiar user experience will help it overtake Apple's iOS and Android as the mainstream platform of choice. Recently leaked slides suggest Asus has a couple of Windows 8 tablets coming up during Q3 2012.