New numbers released this afternoon show an increase of about 2 percent in worldwide PC shipments for the first quarter, surprising industry analysts who had been expecting a modest decline.

It’s good news for Microsoft and other companies that rely on new PC sales for a large chunk of their revenue. The PC industry has been struggling from flooding in Thailand that has reduced the supply of disk drives, along with the rise of the iPad reducing the demand for low-end portable computers.

Anticipation for Windows 8 later this year also has the potential to reduce demand for PCs in the meantime, before giving the market a boost later this year.

Overall worldwide PC shipments totaled 89 million units in the first quarter, up 1.9 percent from the same quarter last year, according to data from the Gartner research firm this afternoon. The firm had been expecting a decline in shipments of 1.2 percent.

IDC likewise had been expecting a 0.9 percent decline, but the actual number recorded by the firm was a 2.3 percent increase.

“PC market growth remained limited in the first quarter as HDD supply and other factors limited demand,” said Loren Loverde, IDC vice president of Worldwide Consumer Device Trackers, in a news release. “Nevertheless, history has shown that periods of slower growth are followed by recovery as improving technologies make replacements as well as new purchases increasingly compelling. As a result, we expect PC shipments to pick up significantly by the fourth quarter and beyond as HDD supply and pricing are normalized, Windows 8 is launched, and replacements pick up.”

Here are charts from IDC breaking down the U.S. and worldwide trends among the major PC makers.

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  • Bob

    Better than a decline. But it may not translate into much of an earnings increase for MS if most of the growth is coming from the third world and China.

  • Christopher M

    Among the top five, US WinTel shipments were down 1.8% Y/Y (10,870/11077).

    Apple’s 5% Y/Y increase brings the total to a 2% increase.

    • Guest

      Not unexpected given the decline in netbooks. And the “Others” category is up strong enough to offset that and more.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to the world’s PC makers! Looks like the “post-PC era” is as dead as the man who coined that phrase.

    • Guest

      Very classy. Well, not really. Post-PC is a very effective marketing term, particularly for Apple. But it’s fairly meaningless otherwise.  However if you don’t see from these growth numbers versus those for smartphones or tablets that we’re rapidly moving to an era where the PC will no longer be the number one volume device or computing platform, then you’re just not paying attention. Even your dear MS gets it, which is why they’re so concerned above having missed both and spending so much to try and reverse that. So far unsuccessfully.

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