The Microsoft Quantum Development Kit launched on Monday, offering developers tools for quantum experimentation integrated with Visual Studio, including with a native programming language, Q#. Developers can use code examples and libraries to help create their own Q# solutions, then test these solutions in Azure-hosted simulators.
Microsoft takes a topological approach to quantum computing, which is different than many of its competitors. Topological qubits help address consistency and quantum noise problems that quantum machines face, thereby reducing the number of error correcting qubits, reports Ars Technica.
- Quantum computing could solve some of the greatest problems in the world, including climate change, according to Microsoft researchers. But without quantum supremacy, Microsoft is using the technologies it does command to tackle these large problems. Over the next five years, the company pledged $50 million dollars to AI for Earth, which already uses Microsoft's AI resources to help universities, NGOs and other groups tackle environmental problems, reports GeekWire.
CEO Satya Nadella made quantum computing one of the three pillars of Microsoft's future technology path. But on the race to quantum supremacy, the company may not be in first place.
IBM recently broke records with a 50 qubit processor. In October, Google — long rumored to have quantum capabilities beyond what it has publicly disclosed — claimed it was months away from "quantum supremacy," reports the MIT Technology Review.
As the onus of quantum computing research and experimentation moved from universities to governments and now to the commercial sphere, a host of startups and private companies are giving these tech giants a run for their money. Yet international competition, especially from quantum frontrunner China, is the elephant in the room for American tech companies and the U.S.
Microsoft's investment in AI for Earth is important because, just like blockchain, companies should be wary about pinning solutions on quantum technology.
Quantum supremacy may be weeks or months away, but it could also take years. In the meantime, technologies already in place may offer easier solutions — an faster ones — even if they aren't based in buzzword, hyped technologies.