Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit is adding support for Linux and Mac users, the company announced in a Monday blog post. The firm is also adding net open source libraries to the kit as well as Python interoperability. With the macOS and Linux support, the power to create apps that take advantage of quantum computing is coming to even more developers. On the flip side, Microsoft gets its business capabilities in the hands of a broader audience of developers, who have increasing control over the buying process in the enterprise. "At Microsoft, we believe quantum computing holds the promise of solving many of today's unsolvable problems and we want to make it possible for the broadest set of developers to code new quantum applications," the post said.
It's easy to understand the allure of the super-processing powers of quantum computing when you consider the explosion of data from AI, machine learning and internet of things (IoT). IDC researchers predicted there will be over 300 billion connected things by 2021. Business models are being disrupted overnight. Workforce diversity and empowered customers are rising, while resources are getting scarce. The ability to manage and monetize large amounts of data is top of mind for leaders whose survival depends on connecting mountains of data experience and operational within and beyond company walls to make better, faster decisions.
Quantum computers are still in their infancy, but builders of the exotic machines want to encourage software developers to experiment with them. Programming the circuits on quantum machines is a real challenge . Instead of standard digital bits, which represent either 1 or 0, quantum computers use "qubits," which can be in both states at once thanks to a phenomenon known as superposition. Qubits can also influence one another even if they're not physically connected. Moreover, they stay in their delicate quantum state for no longer than the blink of an eye.
The jury is still out when it comes to how wide-ranging the application set and market potential for quantum computing will be. Optimistic estimates project that in the 2020s it will be a billion-dollar field, while others expect the novelty will wear off and the one company behind the actual production of quantum annealing machines will go bust. Ultimately, whichever direction the market goes with quantum computing will depend on two things. First, the ability for applications of sufficient value to warrant the cost of quantum systems have to be in place. Second, and connected to that point, is the fact that enough problems can be mapped to these machines--a tricky problem that if not solved, will lead to a limited ecosystem of capabilities and, of course, developers.