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role as the world's No.1 PC maker in the third quarter -- for the first time in nearly three years.

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The change in rankings came as PC unit shipments in the U.S. declined by 2% year over year, according to a new report by industry research firm Gartner.

H-P boosted its worldwide PC sales by 15.4% in the third quarter, grabbing 16.3% of the overall market.

Dell, which has been plagued by issues such as a battery recall for its notebooks, only grew by 3.6%, which Gartner said was the lowest year over year growth in the company's history. Dell's market share slipped from 16.6% to 16.1%.

"H-P continues to take better advantage of the faster growth segments such as the consumer market," said Garter analyst Mikako Kitagawa in a statement. "The company's share trajectory reflects its improvements in operational execution and changes in marketing."

Dell felt the effects of weak U.S. sales, Kitagawa added.

Total worldwide PC shipments during the period were 59.l million, up 6.7% from the same time last year. U.S. sales however slipped to 15.9 million, compared with 16.2 million a year ago. The last time suffered a year-over-year decline in shipments was in the second quarter of 2002, said Gartner.