While commercial quantum computing is still a ways off, Microsoft has officially launched its own hardware network.
The Microsoft Quantum Network made its official debut during a Startup Summit at the company's Redmond HQ which laid out the its vision for the future of quantum computing.
Representatives from 16 startups attended Microsoft's summit which featured talks from leaders of its quantum team as well as demos and workshops related to its programming tools.
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Corporate vice president of Microsoft's Azure Hardware Systems Group, Todd Holmdahl gave a speech in which he explained how quantum computing will be used to solve the world's biggest problems, saying:
“We’re looking at problems like climate change. We’re looking at solving big food production problems. We think we have opportunities to solve problems around materials science, personal health care, machine learning. All of these things are possible and obtainable with a quantum computer. We have been talking around here that we’re at the advent of the quantum economy.”
Microsoft has laid the groundwork for quantum computing over the last year and a half by releasing a new programming language specifically for quantum workloads called Q# as part of its Quantum Development Kit and the company has also worked with researchers and academic institutions.
According to Julie Love, director of Microsoft Quantum Business Development, the company will first offer quantum computing through Microsoft Azure.
However, it is likely that the technology will be applied in such a way that customers can switch between traditional computing and quantum computing based on the individual needs of the problems they're trying to solve.
Last year, Holmdah predicted that commercial quantum computers would be available in five years and while we'll have to wait to see if his prediction has come true, Microsoft has certainly made big steps towards that goal with the release of the Microsoft Quantum Network.