Google is getting a lot of attention for their quantum computing efforts. But you may also have heard about the quantum computer Microsoft is working on. Well, although this is still a work in progress, the tech giant has other amazing quantum computing news for the development world. More precisely, we are talking about the new and exciting Q# quantum programming language, a compiler and a quantum simulator. But even more importantly, Microsoft says they will soon make all these efforts open-source!
If the name Q# sounds familiar, is because it is inspired by the C# programming language Microsoft developed within the .NET framework. The framework is meant for programming all kinds of applications, from web to mobile with the help of Xamarin. Ever from the original version 1.0, C# was a “simple, modern, general-purpose object-oriented language”, that looked very much like Java. Over the years, this popular language kept gaining momentum, and after their latest update it reached version 7.0. Nevertheless, C# was created for regular programming, not quantum computing.
Quantum computing with Q#
As a potential huge next step in the software evolutionary journey, Microsoft created Q#. Now, if you know anything about quantum computing, you also know this is all about hardware. But, with Q#, Microsoft aims at making “quantum computing and algorithm development easier and more transparent for developers”. However, making this technology open source means two important things. One, academic institutions will be able to use these tools. Second, the development community can share their two cents and contribute with their own code.
Naturally, we will find the code on Microsoft’s GitHub page, which is a rather uncommon move for the tech giant. In the past they have open-sourced samples of the quantum chemistry library. But never before have they open-sourced core parts of the platform. Exciting!
Competition is fierce
This is a giant leap for Microsoft, yet, they are not the first ones at the start line. Just to give one example, IBM took the already offered their own open-source quantum computing programs builder, Qiskit, along with the Aer simulator.
Overall, even though Microsoft’s progress in hardware is slower than expected, their software efforts deserve our applause. Simply put, the company’s approach to quantum computing is rather different, which might give them a significant competitive advantage in the long run. For now, however, other players in the game make actual, tangible progress. Their progress, while still limited, is progress nonetheless. So all we can do now is wait on the edge of our seat for Microsoft’s next move.