Gartner has released a report that shows a rise of .5% in PC shipments during the last quarter from a year ago. A small but nonetheless positive gain, compared to the second quarter's 5% decline and the first's 6.5% drop. The growth was somewhat of a surprise to Gartner, which expected PC shipments to fall by 5.6% in the third quarter.

Last quarter held a milestone for Acer, as the company raced passed Dell to claim 15.4% of the global market, with the latter holding about 12.8%, and HP remained on top with a 19.9% share. HP performed about equal to the prior quarter, but Acer and Dell were neck and neck with 13.5% and 13.6% of the market.

Gartner's report also shows a 3.9% on-year increase of PC shipments in the US during the third quarter, which compares to a 1.2% year-over-year decline in the second quarter. Dell held its ground in the States, with 26.2% share and even widened its lead over HP, which claimed 25.7% of the market. Meanwhile, Acer accounted for 13.9% of US PC shipments, and Apple took fourth place with 8.8%.

Gartner expects the launch of Windows 7 to have a "minimal impact on PC unit growth," but notes that inventory adjustments could artificially affect shipment volumes. This report follows Intel's better-than-expected third quarter earnings.