Microsoft has released a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit, which was announced back in September as an initiative for developers who are keen to program on quantum computers.
The software, which can be downloaded here, includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator, as well as other resources for those interested in writing applications for a quantum computer.
The kit is integrated with Visual Studio, which is Microsoft’s suite of developer tools. Also included is a local quantum simulator capable of simulating around 30 logical qubits of quantum computing power through the use of a typical laptop computer, allowing developers to use their own systems to debug quantum code.
An Azure-based simulator was also released for more advanced quantum challenges. It can simulate more than 40 logical qubits of computing power. Microsoft's not stopping there, though: it's also releasing a batch of documentation, libraries, and sample programs to give people the background information they need to familiarize themselves with quantum systems.
Microsoft highlights that quantum computers could enable scientists to address major problems such as the dangerous effects of climate change; breakthroughs of this nature is made possible thanks to the abilities of quantum computers; one such example is carrying out calculations in hours or even minutes "that would take the lifetime of the universe for even the most advanced classical computers in use today."
Artificial intelligence is another field quantum computers can help support in a big way. Krysta Svore, a principal researcher at Microsoft who has led the development of the quantum software and simulator, says that a quantum computing simulator could see quantum algorithms quickly finding more "nuanced patterns in data," which in turn could prompt considerable advances in fields like speech, vision, or language recognition.
Ultimately, Microsoft plans to build a quantum computing system that will boast both quantum computing hardware and the software to utilize that power.
It's not just Microsoft who wants to take a stake in the quantum computing field; just recently, hardware giant IBM revealed its 50-qubit processor.