Since Windows Phone's humble beginnings, Microsoft has been the underdog in the wireless industry. Four years later, nothing's changed -- except, perhaps, a few more percentage points of market share. Even then, it's got a long way to go before catching up to Android and iOS. Let's give the company credit for pushing forward, improving its platform and not giving up, though: When I reviewed the last major OS update, I said I could finally use Windows Phone as my daily driver. The one element that Microsoft continued to lack, however, was buy-in from large phone makers. They put more focus on Android products, which meant anyone interested in Windows Phone had a small selection of devices to choose from.

For Microsoft, it's time to experiment with a new, simpler approach. The software giant has buddied up with HTC to convert the One M8, its Android flagship, into a Windows Phone. That's all there is to it. There's absolutely no change to the hardware -- and it's a fantastic idea. If it fails, neither company loses much from the deal; since they're using an existing phone, the cost of design and engineering is far lower than it would be on a standalone device. If it's successful, it may inspire other manufacturers to follow suit, resulting in a market with a wide variety of Windows Phones to choose from. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

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The Engadget Live tour continued last week, with the latest stop taking place in Boston. Just like at our previous two events, in Austin and Seattle, Beantown didn't disappoint and the reader turnout was incredible. Attendees were treated to a night filled with a myriad of activities, giveaways and social mingling. Want to know what you missed? Check out the picture gallery bellow, where you'll also get a glimpse of what the sponsors brought over to the Royale venue to share with the Engadget aficionados in attendance.

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Nokia Verizon

LTE isn't just about getting incredibly fast data speeds on our smartphone or tablet. Sure, that's been what the technology's been primarily used for ever since it was introduced a few years ago, but it's capable of providing crystal-clear phone calls as well through a service known as Voice over LTE (VoLTE). The catch is that it's up to each carrier to provide the service. AT&T and T-Mobile have rolled out the capability already, and Verizon announced today that it's nearly ready to flip the switch on VoLTE nationwide, and it'll happen in a matter of weeks. Whether that means two or fourteen, Verizon won't say. But when it's ready, this functionality will be pre-loaded on new devices and pushed to existing phones in a downloadable update (provided the hardware is compatible, which many devices are).

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IRL: Giving Firefox OS a second chance

When I reviewed the original ZTE Open last year, the Firefox OS experience was -- to put it modestly -- rough around the edges. The device was stripped down even by the standards of low-end phones, while the software was missing features other platforms have had for years. You didn't even get new email notifications, for crying out loud. Jump ahead a year and it's another story. The Open C is a much more powerful device, and Firefox OS has received a few vital upgrades. But does that mean Mozilla's web-based mobile software is finally ready for prime time? I spent two weeks with the Open C to find out if it can hold its own against budget rivals -- and to see if I'd be comfortable using it as my only phone.

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There's mounting evidence that HP, once the leading PC maker, does not know what it's doing. After announcing plans to cut up to 5 percent of its work force, the company is basically throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Recent experiments include a luxury smartwatch, Chromebooks, a $199 Window notebook and now, a laptop running Android. Here's the sales pitch, and bear with me if this doesn't make sense: The SlateBook 14, according to HP, is for students and teens who already use Android on their mobile devices. In other words, they already own a Galaxy S5 or what have you, and they should have an Android laptop to match. The idea is that they might choose this over a Chromebook because it has more apps, and because it's more familiar. Ditto for Windows laptops -- except, you know, Windows actually has lots of apps too. Setting aside HP's flawed logic (they never said Windows users should stick to Windows Phone): Why would you pay $430 for a laptop running an OS that was primarily meant to be used with the fingers?

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Nokia Lumia 930 review: like the Icon, but better

Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia is now bearing fruit, but as often happens when big companies merge, there aren't enough jobs to go around. More than 10,000 former Nokia employees are due to be laid off by the end of the year, but their legacy will live on for a time in the Lumia 930: one of the last all-Nokia creations. If you live in the UK, then you already know where to get the flagship Windows Phone, but the more important question is whether you want one. We've already taken a deep dive on the 930 in our review of the Lumia Icon, which is essentially the same phone, just exclusive to Verizon in the US. Let's revisit the good, the bad and the competition.

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It's sure been a long time since Sharp shipped a smartphone to American consumers. And, let's be honest with ourselves, the FX Plus wasn't exactly taking the market by storm. The Sidekick-esque slider was dated even by 2011 standards. But the company is hoping its AQUOS Crystal will have better fortunes. The (almost) bezel-less device offers high-end looks with decidedly mid-range internals. The 1.2GHz chip inside isn't going to set land-speed records, but it should be enough for most folks. The most important feature, though, is the edge-to-edge 5-inch display. While Sharp's description of it as a "groundbreaking" device might be a little over the top, we must admit it's quite a stunning panel -- especially for being five inches and only 720p.

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The above picture isn't Photoshopped -- what you're seeing really is the HTC One M8 for Windows (Phone), and it's available today as a Verizon exclusive. Thanks to Microsoft's latest update, it's now possible for manufacturers to slap the third-place smartphone OS onto existing hardware (replacing Android), and HTC is the first mainstream phone maker to take advantage of the opportunity. Spoiler alert: The hardware of the Windows Phone-equipped One M8 is completely identical to that of the Android version launched earlier this year, aside from gratuitous Verizon and Microsoft logos. What makes this new variant so special is on the software side.

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HTC has its metallic-hewn, well-received One smartphone series. Oh, and its cheaper Desire collection, which has also hit a creative groove of late. But then there's the company's Butterfly phones: high-spec Android devices that rarely make it out of Asia. (We say rarely because one snuck into the US under Verizon: remember the Droid DNA?) Now, in Tokyo, HTC has announced the Butterfly 2 -- the practically-identical, globetrotting version of Japan's HTC J. The company hasn't confirmed whether the model will leave Asia, but it could be a real shame this time around, because going on our early impressions, the Buttterfly 2 could well be better than the HTC One M8. Yeah, we said it.

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A year later, and strangers still ask.

"Is that the Lumia with the crazy camera? How do you like it?"

And, after a year, I still offer up the same basic response.

"Great camera, solid phone."

But after 12 months, and with a slew of new handsets on the way, it's time to reevaluate if my bright yellow Lumia 1020 is still the best choice as my daily driver. Is being great good enough?

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How a keyboard case can turn your 8-inch tablet into a productivity machine

What's up with 8-inch tablets? Microsoft reportedly canceled the Surface Mini at the last minute. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0 is long overdue for a refresh. Even the current class leader, the iPad mini, only came about after years of procrastination at Apple. Perhaps it's just a little harder to convince people of the merits of this category of device, compared to the greater pocketability of a phablet, the affordability of a 7-inch Android slate or the extra productivity offered by a full-sized tablet, hybrid or laptop. However, I'm happy to report that with a bit of smart accessorizing -- namely, the addition of a high-quality keyboard case that allows for proper touch-typing -- an 8-inch tablet has plenty of scope to operate as a serious productivity tool, if not an outright laptop replacement.

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HTC's days of acting like a wallflower at the school dance are over -- the company's ready to explore its social side. Its first attempt is to turn Zoe, one of its most creative software features, into a social network that not only lets you share photos and videos with your friends, but allows them to pitch in and edit them as well. Known simply as the Zoe app, the new program launches in open beta today and will be available on several Samsung, LG and other Google devices. Finally, HTC is looking outside of its own user base and reaching out to those who may never have touched any of its products before.

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Ever since the original Moto RAZR V3 came out 10 years ago, the smartphone industry has had a strange obsession with skinny phones. Not because shaving a millimeter or two off a device will give it more functionality, but because it's an effective marketing tactic. In emerging markets in particular, slimmer phones at slimmer prices enjoy a distinct advantage. Gionee, a handset maker based in China, isn't very well known, but it's looking to make a name for itself with devices like the $375 Elife S5.5. At 5.55mm thick, this svelte beauty currently claims the title for the thinnest smartphone on the market. To put that in perspective, that's a full two millimeters skinnier than the iPhone 5s. I spent a few days with the device to see if thinner really is better.

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Xiaomi's regular channeling of Apple -- from its stage presentations all the way to disguising Aperture's icon as a phone's camera -- has earned its CEO Lei Jun the "Steve Jobs of China" nickname. Or rather, "Lei Bu Si," a Chinese combination of "Lei" and "Jobs." It's also a double entendre -- something along the lines of "endless shocks" -- that mocks Xiaomi's aggressive marketing. It's no wonder Lei hates the comparison. Fortunately for Lei there's another Chinese CEO gunning for that title. Meet Luo Yonghao, an English teacher turned founder and CEO of smartphone startup, Smartisan, with designs on being the next great tech visionary.

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New England Patriots v Carolina Panthers

It's been roughly six months since the National Football League announced NFL Now, a digital network designed from the ground up to, hopefully, fit the needs of fans on the internet. Today, the video service is finally scheduled to launch, just in time for the ongoing preseason and, soon, the start of the regular season. At first glance, it's easy to see that NFL Now has a lot of great attributes, but some that quickly stand out are its worldwide availability and the fact it doesn't require any sort of authentication, pay-TV and the like, in exchange for content access. Better yet, it will be available in a vast number of platforms and services from day one, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, Roku, Yahoo Screen, Yahoo Sports and on the NFL Now website. That's not all, however, since the NFL's new service is expected to come to Xbox One, Kindle Fire and Fire TV soon, with the Apple TV reportedly in the same boat as those devices.

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