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Updated below with HP comment criticizing the deal and making a pitch for Dell’s customers, as well as comments from Michael Dell.

Microsoft’s involvement in the $24.4 billion deal to take PC maker Dell private was officially confirmed this morning, with the Redmond company agreeing to provide a $2 billion loan to help finance the transaction.

The agreement, led by Michael Dell and the Silver Lake investment firm, doesn’t give Microsoft an equity stake or operational control over its longtime partner.

However, the loan supports a key Windows PC maker and strengthens the ties between the companies at a time when the landscape for computing and devices is changing radically. Just yesterday, for example, HP announced that it would start selling its first Google Chromebook laptop.

Here’s Microsoft’s full statement on the agreement.

“Microsoft has provided a $2 billion loan to the group that has proposed to take Dell private. Microsoft is committed to the long term success of the entire PC ecosystem and invests heavily in a variety of ways to build that ecosystem for the future.

“We’re in an industry that is constantly evolving. As always, we will continue to look for opportunities to support partners who are committed to innovating and driving business for their devices and services built on the Microsoft platform.”

Could this cause more friction with other PC makers, in addition to the tension from Microsoft’s decision to release its own Surface tablet. Absolutely. But given the degree of change taking place in the broader computing world, exemplified by the rise of the iPad and other forms of mobile computing, it’s not a huge surprise that Microsoft is willing to take that risk.

Update: Here is HP’s statement on the deal …

“Dell has a very tough road ahead. The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell’s ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited. Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell’s customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity.”

Update: Here is Michael Dell’s memo to staffers:

“Dell’s transformation is well underway, but we recognize it will still take more time, investment and patience. I believe that we are better served with partners who will provide long-term support to help Dell innovate and accelerate the company’s transformation strategy. We’ll have the flexibility to continue organic and inorganic investment, and grow our business for the long term.”

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