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Windows Phone 8

Hot on the heels of Windows 8 came Windows Phone 8, the first major upgrade to Microsoft's smartphone operating system. With support for HD screens, multicore processors, and NFC, Microsoft did a lot to close the gap separating it from Google and Apple.

Nokia Lumia 920
The Nokia Lumia 920 showcases Windows Phone 8 well. Josh Miller/CNET

Hot on the heels of Windows 8 came Windows Phone 8, the first major upgrade to Microsoft's smartphone operating system. By bringing a heavy load of much-needed features like support for HD screens, multicore processors, and NFC, Microsoft did a lot to close the gap separating it from Google and Apple. The ability to customize tile size gave users more control over the OS's unique look and feel, and it didn't hurt that it debuted on strong devices such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

But there were some problems. Existing Windows Phone devices couldn't upgrade to the new version. As a result, owners of even relatively new devices like the Nokia Lumia 900 were left off the evolutionary path for good. Camera features also continue to trail the competition, and the Windows Marketplace needs more developer love.

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