Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, left, talks with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, himself a former Microsoft executive, at the Microsoft Alumni Network’s annual Reunion with a Purpose event on the Microsoft campus today. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)
Will Microsoft’s quantum computing technology be a hardware division unto itself, like Xbox, or something that the company offers to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), like its traditional Windows business for PCs?
“It’s not OEM-ready yet,” joked Satya Nadella, as the crowd laughed at his significant understatement in response to the question from a former Microsoft employee. Quantum computing — which uses atoms and molecules for processing and memory to exponentially boost computing power — is still largely theoretical, but Microsoft has a high-powered team pursuing breakthroughs in the field.
“We’re still in the early stages,” Nadella said. “We have taken a very different approach. Even in the next year there will be a couple of gimmicks that will happen.” But those short term gimmicks are “not building a general purpose quantum computer,” he said. “We have taken an approach saying, look, let’s go for the general-purpose quantum computer, because that’s the prize, as opposed to worrying about the short term.”
GeekWire was there as Nadella and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, a longtime Microsoft executive, made a rare joint public appearance at the Microsoft Alumni Association‘s “Reunion with a Purpose” on the company’s Redmond campus Thursday morning, recognizing the philanthropic work of former Microsoft employees. Honorees included 2017 “Integral Fellow” Kevin Ross, founding chairman of Washington FIRST Robotics, now FIRST Washington.
The pairing of Nadella and Johnson wasn’t random. Johnson was once Nadella’s manager, but the Starbucks CEO likes to say that he now works for Nadella, because the Microsoft CEO is also on the Starbucks board.
Microsoft executive Rich Kaplan, the Microsoft Alumni Association’s board …read more