MICROSOFT WANTS TO PLAY in the qubit sandpit, as it's released a preview version of its own quantum computing development kit.
The Quantum Development Kit is aimed at developers with the smarts to understand quantum computing, and includes its own Q# language and library, a complier, a local quantum computing simulator, and an extension for Visual Studio developer tools.
It has a swish sounding quantum trace simulator which uses the power of Microsoft's Azure cloud to simulate larger scale quantum calculation, more than 40 qubits if you asking.
All these features and tools are not offering 'quantum computing for dummies' rather they require developers to have a strong grasp of a form of computing that flips traditional computing on it head.
In the simple of terms, traditional computers use binary code formed of bits, which exist in one of two states - off and on - thereby governing how data is read and computed upon in transistor arrays that make up computer hardware.
Quantum computing uses qubits that can be both on and off at the same time until they are 'observed' by a programme, which means they can facilitate masses more computation equations than traditional bits yet not require vast amounts of chip transistors or storage.
Quantum computing has been around for years but is still arguably in its early days, with breakthroughs only really cropping up in the past couple of years. Storing qubits and handling them can be very finicky, which is why your PC doesn't have an Intel Core-Q processor powering Windows Quantum yet.
But Microsoft looks keen to get ahead of the game, with the development kit allowing for the creation and testing of quantum apps that can be eventually ported over to a topological quantum computer.
This is all good futuristic stuff, but quantum computing can still give even the best boffins a ball ache.
So Redmond's bight bunch want to eventually create a quantum computing ecosystem that bypass the need for a deep understanding of physics and computing, leaving all that stuff to Microsoft, and instead allow developers to build upon a new computing framework.
"What you're going to see as a developer is the opportunity to tie into tools that you already know well, services you already know well," said. Todd Holmdahl, the corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft's quantum effort.
"There will be a twist with quantum computing, but it's our job to make it as easy as possible for the developers who know and love us to be able to use these new tools that could potentially do some things exponentially faster - which means going from a billion years on a classical computer to a couple hours on a quantum computer."
Good stuff. Now if only Microsoft could make the Edge browser more appealing then we'd have a proper computing breakthrough. µ
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