PCs Are Stoves and Tablets Are Microwaves: Dell Inc. (DELL), Gartner Inc (IT), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Dell (DELL)It seems as if the Windows 8 bump is really more of a speed bump.

Industry tracker IDC is now forecasting that worldwide PC shipments will fall in 2013, and that’s bad news for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) . Windows 8 was supposed to save the day, but demand sputtered during the holiday quarter, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason to expect that trend to change in the near future.

After seeing desktop and portable PC shipments decline 3.7% last year, IDC sees another 1.3% slide through 2013. Don’t make the mistake of branding IDC a pessimist. IDC and rival Gartner Inc (NYSE:IT) were actually projecting PC shipments to grow in 2012 a year earlier.

If anything, IDC is being too kind. It feels the one thing holding back the industry is the lack of touch-screen components that show off Windows 8’s touch-centric features.

For whatever reason, IDC isn’t ready to concede that PCs will continue to shrink in popularity. The researchers even partly dismiss the threat of mobile gadgetry that seems to be gaining ground at the expense of Windows-fueled systems: “We still don’t see tablets (with limited local storage, file system, lesser focus on traditional productivity, etc.) as functional competitors to PCs — but they are winning consumer dollars with mobility and consumer appeal nevertheless.”

Really? It’s more than that, so let me boil this down in kitchen terms.

The PC is the stovetop oven. It’s functional. It’s there for heavy cooking. It isn’t very portable, but it gets the job done. Tablets and smartphones are microwave ovens. They’re limited in what they can do, but they’re fast, portable, and fun.

Yes, microwaves can be fun.