NEW YORK (AP) -- CNBC and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that the discussions to buy struggling computer maker Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) now include Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) as a potential investor.

If Microsoft joins in a Dell buyout, CNBC and the Journal say, the software maker would contribute $1 billion to $3 billion. That amount would make Microsoft a minority investor in a complex deal expected to cost $23 billion to $27 billion if it's completed.

The reports tying Microsoft to the Dell buyout talks cited people familiar with the negotiations who didn't want to be identified.

Microsoft declined to comment.

Word that Dell is interested in selling to a group led by buyout firm Silver Lake Partners first surfaced last week. Dell's stock price has climbed about 20 percent to around $13.16 since then.

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