Last week it was announced that Dell was participating in buyout talks that could take the company private. Silver Lake Partners and Michael Dell were both name-dropped as potential investors in the buyout.
Today, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft may be willing to toss a few billion dollars into the deal. According to "a person familiar with the deal deliberations," Microsoft hasn't made a commitment yet, though it could invest "in the range of a couple of billion dollars." According to the report, Silver Lake has been shopping for banks or other co-investors to fund the buyout.
Microsoft hasn't commented on a possible deal, and the Journal's unnamed source hasn't provided any possible motivation for Microsoft's intrest in Dell. It isn't hard to speculate, however.
With the debut of the Surface tablet last year, Microsoft signaled a shift toward making mobile devices on its own, rather than letting OEMs decide how to best use Microsoft software. The growing integration between Windows 8 PCs, tablets, hybrid PC/tablets, and the Xbox Console demonstrated that Microsoft is serious about creating an Apple-like ecosystem for Windows 8. Dell's development and manufacturing capabilities would be valuable resources during such a transition.
In the same vein, Dell may hold any number of valuable patents. With the number of patent lawsuits currently in courts around the world, the patent wars show no signs of abating.