Microsoft is accelerating its efforts to make a quantum computer as it looks to a future of computing beyond today's PCs and servers. Microsoft has researched quantum computing for more than a decade. Now the company's goal is to put the theory to work and create actual hardware and software. To that effect, Microsoft has put Todd Holmdahl--who was involved in the development of Kinect, HoloLens, and Xbox--to lead the effort to create quantum hardware and software. The company has also hired four prominent university professors to contribute to the company's research.
One of the Microsoft's surprise announcements this year was made at Ignite 2017 when Microsoft's Quantum Computing research efforts were unveiled during the main keynote. CEO Satya Nadella provided an overview of this technology and its potential at the end of his keynote, introducing a panel of Microsoft researchers and technical fellows who tried to explain the technology to attendees.
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.
Developers hoping to get on the quantum computer train early can now get started with Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit, a free preview version of which was released today. The kit, which was first announced at Microsoft's Ignite conference in September, includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator that can simulate 30 logical qubits of power and a companion collection of documentation, libraries and sample programs that will help developers get a better foothold on the complex science behind quantum computing.
For D-Wave, the path to quantum computers being widely accepted is similar to the history of today's computers. The first chips came more than 30 years ago, and Microsoft's Basic expanded the software infrastructure around PCs. Quantum computers are a new type of computer that can be significantly faster than today's PCs. They are still decades away from replacing PCs and going mainstream, but more advanced hardware and use models are still emerging. "A lot of that is unfolding and will have a similar dramatic change in the computing landscape," Vern Brownell, D-Wave's CEO, said in an interview.