Microsoft releases free preview of its Quantum Development Kit

Microsoft is rolling out a preview of its promised Q# language, compiler, and simulator to help developers get an early look at how quantum computing works.

Microsoft is making available a free preview version of its promised Quantum Development Kit.

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The kit includes the Q# programming language and compiler and a local quantum computing simulator, and is fully integrated with Visual Studio. There's also an Azure-based simulator that allows developers to simulate more than 40 logical qubits of computing power, plus documentation, libraries, and sample programs, officials said in their December 11 announcement.

Microsoft announced its intentions to make available tools for quantum computing during its Ignite conference in September.

Quantum computers are designed to process in parallel, thus enabling new types of applications across a variety of workloads. They are designed to harness the physics of subatomic particles to provide a different way to store data and solve problems compared to conventional computers, as my ZDNet colleague Tony Baer explains. The result is that quantum computers could solve certain high-performance-computing problems more efficiently.

Microsoft officials have said applications that developers create for use with the quantum simulator ultimately will work on a quantum computer, which Microsoft is in the process of developing. Microsoft's goal is to build out a full quantum computing system, including both the quantum computing hardware and the related full software stack.

Microsoft isn't alone in working to build a quantum computing system. IBM delivered a 17-qubit prototype processor in May and said it's closing in on a 50 qubit processor prototype.