Microsoft eyes the future with quantum computing programming language

During its Ignite 2017 keynote, Microsoft showcased a number of short-term announcements centered around the likes of Microsoft 365, commercial Windows 10 S machines, and more. However, the company also tipped its hand a bit more on one long-term, industry-wide bet: quantum computing.

Microsoft has been working on aspects of building a quantum computing ecosystem for some time, but today it announced one of the first practical applications for developers, a quantum computing programming language (opens in new tab). The language will be "deeply integrated into Visual Studio," Microsoft says, so you won't need to be a quantum computing expert to use it. In the short term, code from the language will run in a quantum simulator. However, in the future, programs built with the programming language will be able to run on actual topological quantum computers. From Microsoft:

The system, which will be available as a free preview by the end of the year, also includes libraries and tutorials so developers can familiarize themselves with quantum computing. It's designed to work at a higher level of abstraction, so that developers without quantum expertise can actually call quantum subroutines, or write sequences of programming instructions, working up to writing a complete quantum program.

Quantum computing is seen as the next big frontier in computing, as it would theoretically enable incredibly fast calculations for things that would take years, centuries, or even, Microsoft says, "the lifetime of the universe" to calculate with even the most advanced examples of our current technology. That could open up doors to solving extremely complex problems involved with healthcare or energy, for example. One immediately tangible impact it could have, Microsoft says, is in drastically speeding up the time it takes to process an AI training algorithm.

We're still far away from quantum computing hitting any mainstream use. However, if you're a developer, you can sign up to participate (opens in new tab) in Microsoft's quantum language preview now.

Microsoft's 'do more' vision of quantum computing

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Foundation of skynet. Turn it on, on mars, and nuke it if it becomes self aware and kills the human colony. Looking forward to all the new things it will solve though!
  • If DOOM is anything to go by, that sounds like a recipe for opening a gate to hell 0_o
  • As long as we can keep it contained! And need Karl urban to save the day since the rock can't.
  • So I guess bots are no longer the new hot thing for Microsoft, now its all about the Quantum Leap! /S
  • How long will quantum computing languages even be necessary? These computers will be able to understand human languages soon enough.
  • The current prototype Quantum computers release enourmous amount heat and that is the problem... In order to contain this heat minimum liquid hellium cooling is requuired. That makes the size of these machine the same as a tall refrigerator! Therefore, the first application of such computer will be industrial facilities, research facilities and military. By the time the consumer version with compact cooling devices to address the heat issue comes to the market it would be year 2035 or 2040!