First announced in September during the Microsoft Ignite conference, the kit includes the Q# (Q-sharp) programming language and a simulator for developers interested in creating programs for quantum computers, even if they're not experts in quantum physics, according to the software maker. The kit includes a quantum computing simulator, Q# programming language (pronounced "Q Sharp"), and other resources to get started with.
"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", Todd Holmdahl, Microsoft's VP in charge of its quantum effort, said in a statement.
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. In case you're willing to push the boundaries and simulate more than 40 logical qubits, you can use an Azure-based simulator.
Those interested can download the kit from the Microsoft website.
In the simple of terms, traditional computers use binary code formed of bits, which exist in one of two states - off and on - thereby governing how data is read and computed upon in transistor arrays that make up computer hardware.
The kit also comes with a suite of documentation, libraries, and sample programs to help introduce developers to some of quantum computing's unique elements, such as quantum teleportation. "It is to be used for writing sub-programs that execute on an adjunct quantum processor, under the control of a classical host program and computer".
All of these resources give budding developers the tools they need to start creating quantum computing applications and many will be transferable to the topological quantum computer that Microsoft is now developing.
"It seems like there's a huge amount of potential there, and we're just scratching the surface", she said. The company's researchers also are working on projects focused on cryptography and security in a quantum computing world. 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. To drum up interest and lower barriers to entry, the kit allows interested developers to dip their toes into the world of quantum coding using familiar tools.
Microsoft has high hopes for quantum computing and is investing accordingly.