Short Takes: July 3, 2014 NBC News

Short Takes: July 3, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this short holiday week's other news, including a 4th of July break, Microsoft's smart watch is smart but not a watch, worries about former Nokia employees, Microsoft takes down more than malware, Google finds a thrifty alternative to Beats, Amazon sues former employee for going Google, and, no, Virginia, Surface Mini was not cancelled because of an iPhone 6 rumor.

Happy 4th!

Team USA may have lost to Belgium in the World Cup, but thanks to the 4th of July holiday arriving on Friday, we Americans can return to what we do best: Having barbeques and blowing stuff up. We're taking Friday off, so Short Takes is a day early this week (and is accordingly a bit shorter than usual). Have a great (long) weekend. –Paul

No, Microsoft is not making a smart watch

There are reports out now that Microsoft's alleged smart watch isn't a watch at all. So let me confirm that: It's not. Instead, the firm will release a Samsung Gear Fit-like fitness band that will display smart phone-based notifications and be platform agnostic. That's right: It will work with Windows Phone ... and with Android and iPhone. It's coming this fall and will be priced at the same level as the Gear Fit. You can find out a bit more on the SuperSite for Windows.

Should former Nokia employees await pink slips?

So imagine you're among the nearly 30,000 employees that Microsoft picked up when it purchased Nokia's devices and services businesses. And now imagine that your job is, shall we say, a bit redundant. Are you worried? Some think you should be. Microsoft certainly didn't buy Nokia (you know, the parts that matter) just to lay off a bunch of people, and of course many of those employees work in factories and manufacturing facilities that have no connection to other parts of Microsoft. But let's face it: Microsoft was already more than a bit top heavy before this Nokia thing. And with 127,000+ employees now, you have to think they're at least thinking about it.

Microsoft's No-IP flap: Mistake, or something a bit more calculated?

Microsoft touted a major malware bot takedown earlier this week, the 10th such takedown since the firm began a cybercrime center in November 2013. All good, right? Not exactly: As part of its takedown of 22 domains run by a company called, Microsoft also managed to takedown a bunch of perfectly legitimate web sites that had absolutely nothing to do with malware. And, go figure, they're not happy. By Tuesday, the software giant admitted it had made a mistake, but said that the outage for legitimate sites was only temporary. How temporary is a matter of opinion, as many were still offline Wednesday. As troubling, is not happy that Microsoft never even contacted them about the bad sites. It just swept in with its federal court order and did the deed. Maybe next time someone could do a bit of homework.

Google pays a bit less for Songza than Apple paid for Beats

Given Apple's astounding $3 billion purchase of Beats, you just knew that Google was going to have to respond. And they did: They spent approximately $40 million—or less than one-seventy-fifth the price of Beats—to purchase a company called Songza. And when you consider that Songza provides the same curated playlist capability that the Beats Music service provides, it's unclear what the other $2.06 billion Apple paid for was all about. It certainly wasn't for Beats' terrible headphones.

Amazon sues former employee for "going Google"

Google was talking up businesses that were "going Google" at its IO Conference last week, but it looks like that strategy doesn't work for everyone: Amazon is now suing a former employee who left the online retailer—he worked in the firm's Amazon Web Services strategic partnerships area—to work on Google Cloud Platform. His crime? A non-compete agreement that prevents him from jumping ship like that. What's interesting about this story is that non-compete agreements have proven legally viable in Washington state—where Amazon is based—but not in Google's home state of California. So the case was filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, of course. I'm no fan of non-competes, and hope this one gets tossed out. Look at me rooting for Google.

"Did Apple's rumored iPhone 6 phablet kill Microsoft's Surface Mini?"

No. And... wow. That is laughably dumb.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and the Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows.

Buy the books!

I'm trying to change the book publishing model, and would appreciate your support: Windows 8.1 Field Guide is available directly from me for only $2 in PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats. And it is now available on Amazon Kindle for $4.99 too. I also have other free and inexpensive e-books available too, including Windows Phone 8 Field Guide (free from that site, or available from both Kindle and Nook too) and the in-progress Xbox Music Field Guide and Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide. Coming soon: Surface Pro 3 Field Guide!

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