Microsoft releases Quantum Development Kit along with the Q# programming language

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue Wash. AP

The live preview of the API includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator and other resources such as the documentation, libraries and sample programs developers need to get started. The Quantum Development Kit is deeply integrated with Visual Studio, Microsoft's suite of developer tools, so programmers can start coding for quantum computers in a familiar environment.

"The hope is that you play with something like teleportation and you get intrigued", said Microsoft's Krysta Svore.

The simulator will allow developers to test programs and debug code with their own computers, which is necessary since there really aren't any quantum computers for them to test their work on yet. Users requiring simulations that can handle 40 logical qubits or more can tap an Azure-based simulator designed for that goal, added Linn. So now any developers who want to prepare applications can do so with Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit. In early testing on the simulator, they are seeing how these quantum algorithms could more quickly find more nuanced patterns in data, which could spur major advances in fields such as speech, vision or language recognition.

While the standard binary we use today is represented by 0 or 1 - on or off - quantum computing represents both 0 and 1, and can represent both at the same time, being on and off.

"Ultimately the quantum computer will allow us to go far beyond 40 qubits".

Given that quantum computers are still rare, Microsoft has built an as-yet-unnamed quantum simulator to run those quantum programs.

"It seems like there's a huge amount of potential there, and we're just scratching the surface", Svore said. Rather than use conventional qubits, which require extremely cold temperatures and exceptionally precise instruments to function properly, the system uses topological qubits that aren't as susceptible to electrical noise and other disturbances that can throw off quantum calculations.

It might sound like this sort of technology is a way off in the distance, but there's some interesting news, and it's particularly curious if you've been keen to give yourself a project to do over the summer: you can now learn quantum computing.

It's worth noting that Redmond is competing with the likes of Google and IBM to develop real-life quantum computers that are more powerful than a handful of qubits.

"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, Microsoft's VP in charge of its quantum effort.

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