Dell's 14-inch Inspiron R Special Edition laptop.
Dell's 14-inch Inspiron R Special Edition laptop. - 
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There are reports Microsoft could chip in as much as $3 billion to the buyout of computer maker Dell. Why would Microsoft want a piece of the Dell deal?

"The dominant theory is that it's in Microsoft's interest to help Dell. Dell is the No. 3 PC maker and it runs Microsoft products," says Marketplace technology reporter Queena Kim.

But it may also be a long-term bet, says Chris Silva, an industry analyst at the Altimeter Group.

"Microsoft sees that we're going to be consuming the traditional Windows computing experience on different devices -- whether it's a smartphone, whether it's a tablet. The actual idea of having a computer that runs Windows is less and less of a physical thing and more about a service that reaches us wherever we are," says Silva.