A week ago it was revealed that Dell was in talks with a couple of private equity firms with regards to taking the company private.  A day later we learned that one of those firms was Silver Lake Partners but given the scope of the deal, another major investor or two would also be needed. That major investor, according to CNBC, might be Microsoft.

Sources say that Microsoft may be prepared to invest between $1 billion and $3 billion in order to help Dell go private. We are hearing that Microsoft is chatting with Silver Lake Partners as well as Dell CEO Michael Dell directly about the deal. The publication notes that parties are only engaging in talks at this point but there are hopes on both sides that a deal could be reached by the end of the week.

It goes without saying that a lot could happen between now and then that could either accelerate a deal or cause it to fall apart completely. Microsoft didn’t immediately reply to a message asking for a comment on the story, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But in the event that the two sides are able to hammer out an agreement, it could be good news for Microsoft down the road given their recent ambitions to build Windows 8 hardware – something Dell could certainly help with.

Granted, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has made it known in the past that he feels it’s important for the company to have a diverse group of manufacturers producing hardware powered by Microsoft software. One would have to imagine that such a move could once again run the risk of alienating other OEMs.