Microsoft wants to use topological qubits to help its quantum computing research

After years and years of theoretical research, quantum computing is now well on its way to becoming a reality. In March, IBM unveiled its plans to offer the first commercially available quantum computer and it seems that Microsoft is betting big on its own aspirations for the technology.

Todd Holmdahl is Microsoft’s corporate vice president of next-gen devices. He is perhaps best known for his role in the hardware design of the Xbox and Xbox 360 video game consoles, but his current project puts him at the helm of the company’s burgeoning interest in quantum computing.

“We have line of sight to a commercial product,” Holmdahl told the MIT Technology Review. In some ways, Microsoft is facing an uphill struggle as it attempts to compete with rivals who have spent more time actively pursuing quantum computing. That said, the company is taking a different approach and there is a lot of optimism about the results it could yield.

Researchers have used various different methods in their attempts to create a large-scale universal quantum computer and two implementations — trapped ions and superconducting qubits — have emerged as the most promising options. However, even when the approach at the foundation of a project has been decided upon, there is plenty of work to be done in terms of scaling up.

For instance, the recent IBM Q announcement stated that the company expects to offer a 50-qubit system over the next couple of years and it is expected that quantum computers will need thousands of qubits or more to realize their potential. Even the most promising implementations are hindered by the delicate nature of quantum hardware.

However, Microsoft is carving its own path with an attempt to create the first device that is able to isolate and encode a single bit of data using a subatomic particle known as the Majorana fermion. The team hopes to use this research to create topological qubits, which would be much more resilient and stable than standard qubits.

If it is a success, it could help Microsoft outpace its competition once the necessary groundwork has been laid. Holmdahl is confident that the project will hit the mark, as the 52-year-old told the MIT Technology Review that he expects the company to construct its first topological qubit before he retires.

The race to secure the market for commercial quantum computers has been heating up for some time but with Microsoft doubling down on its efforts, things are about to get even more interesting. Holmdahl’s presence on the project indicates that the company is pursuing a commercial product, rather than just theoretical research and it seems clear that time is of the essence.

Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic donates record-breaking SpaceShipTwo rocket to the Smithsonian

Private space company Virgin Galactic recently donated the record-breaking rocket motor of SpaceShipTwo — aka VSS Unity — to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.

Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website Here's how the impressive A.I. works.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.