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Microsoft is asking developers for help in its mission to turn the hype of quantum computing into reality.

Today, the tech giant is open-sourcing its Quantum Development Kit, which Microsoft first introduced two years ago. Microsoft is encouraging developers to contribute quantum apps and algorithms to help advance the technology.

“By open-sourcing the Quantum Development Kit in GitHub, we enable developers to contribute alongside an emerging community of quantum computing programmers to help solve some of our world’s most important challenges,” Microsoft’s quantum team wrote in a blog post.

Quantum computing is different from classical digital computing in that it relies on the manipulation of quantum bits, or qubits, that can hold different values simultaneously until the result of the computation is read out. That means quantum computers should be able to solve problems that traditional computers can’t solve, even if they run their algorithms for thousands of years.

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott addressed the potential and challenges of quantum computing at the 2019 GeekWire Cloud Summit. Many of the scientific issues of quantum computing have been settled, Scott said, and the remaining challenges are engineering problems. “Early curiosity” in this burgeoning concept will pay dividends for companies willing to make the leap, Scott said.

That said, Scott doesn’t see fully functional quantum computers hitting the market anytime soon. And while he wouldn’t recommend building business models on the back of the technology yet, it is on the horizon, and the industry should take notice.

“For me, it’s a question of when, not if,” Scott said.

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