The Tamagotchi is to be freed from its egg-shaped electronic box and unleashed on the world's Windows desktop - with the active encouragement of Microsoft. The virtual pets, which require the nearly constant attention of users, will become an Active Channel of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0, thanks to an agreement between 7th Level Inc., Bandai Digital Entertainment and Microsoft.
Users will be able to download critters to "raise" on their PC desktops. Managers hoping to gauge the extent of local infestations will probably learn to keep an ear open for beeps signifying urgent requests for food or care.
One aspect of the announcement likely to grab the attention of conspiracy theorists - and network administrators - is that, according to a news release, "owners will occasionally need to let their little alien 'phone home' over the Internet to receive daily transmissions from the home planet."
7th Level is in Richardson, Texas, and can be reached on the Web at http://www.7thlevel.com/.