Although the PC market continues to fall, having now seen its eighth consecutive quarter of declining worldwide shipments, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Worldwide PC shipments dropped to 76.6 million units in the first quarter of 2014, according to Gartner, a 1.7 percent decrease from the same period last year. That’s still a drop, but a significantly smaller one: in Q1 2013, the PC shipment decline was a whopping 13.9 percent, followed by drops of 10.9 percent, 8.6 percent, and 6.9 percent for the remaining quarters of last year.

Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Asus all managed to grow their respective shares in Q1 2014, although this was still not enough to offset the losses seen by Acer and the rest of the market:

gartner pcs q1 2014 Gartner: PC shipments slip 1.7% to 76.6M units in Q1 2014, as end of Windows XP support boosts replacement sales

Lenovo saw the strongest shipment growth among the top five vendors: up 10.9 percent. This allowed it to extend its position as the worldwide leader, thanks to shipments growing in all regions except Asia/Pacific, due in part to slowing in the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, the share difference between Dell and HP once again narrowed. HP managed to achieve its fastest shipment growth of the last two years (4.1 percent). Dell maintained a strong position in the market, seeing its third consecutive quarter of PC shipment growth and registering its highest growth (9.0 percent) since Q4 2011.

The leading trio aside, the PC market remained tough for many vendors. Gartner emphasized that economies of scale matter tremendously in this high-volume, low-profit market, which has forced vendors like Sony out of the market.

While the PC market is still in decline, the relatively better performance of Q1 2014 can largely be attributed to Microsoft’s end of support for Windows XP. As consumers and businesses move to finally upgrade, many choose to buy new computers.

“The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments,” Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa said in a statement. “All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter.”

Everyone will be looking to see if this is the start of a trend, or just a temporary reprieve. Given that XP support only just ended yesterday, we can expect computer makers to push hard to get their new PCs into as many hands as possible.

Update: IDC today also released its first quarter estimates, with worldwide PC shipments totaling 73.4 million units, down 4.4 percent year-over-year. IDC’s numbers are slightly worse, but the firm also gives the same reason for a slightly lessened decline: “Windows XP Migration.”

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