This has recently sparked conversations and debates on the community on the merits, use cases and typical scenarios where you would use WebAssembly (and especially Blazor in the .NET community, although Blazor adds a server-side scenario which simply is not WebAssembly).
Of course, it is different to compiled-code technologies of the past. Unlike them, it is an Open standard adopted equally by all major players. It does not need a plugin to run - since, simply as it were, the plugin is distributed along with the browser.
There is a level of truth to many of these statements: it will shine in special case scenarios such as gaming and AI. But that is NOT why I think it matters, and I am writing these lines. But I believe the main potential has nothing to do with gaming or AI: it is an incidental feature of the WebAssembly and in order to explain it I have to bring example from the web.
Do you remember Ajax? Ajax was a hack by Microsoft Outlook team to load emails asynchronously as they arrive - instead of reloading the page. Now it is impossible to think of the web without Ajax.
WebAssembly will revitalise desktop app developmentEvernote purely as a desktop application?
Apple’s iOS (and then Android) with its rigorous app governance and opt-in ACL policy created a sandbox for the apps to harness them so that they ask for access on resources they absolutely need. This was not an after-thought, but a design decision from day one. Major Desktop Operating Systems do have concepts of kernel mode vs user mode and file ACL but they are not designed for comprehensive opt-in ACL. And that is why even Mac app store feels pretty deserted with tumbleweed rolling on the street, let alone Windows 8/10 whose app store is more like a joke.
I strongly believe WebAssembly will become a vehicle for desktop application delivery. First, it is web-based, allowing the same levels of discoverability, ease of registration, monetisation/subscription and seamless update mechanism. Second, it is 100% secure (or at least as secure as websites we visit everyday) and there is no more a concept of installation. Third, it will make software rental very easy and will allow for the growth of SaaS for compute-intensive applications.
While Electron applications provided ease of developing desktop applications using Web toolkit, WebAssembly will turn this approach on its head and bring native performance to the web.
Web is ubiquitous and WebAssembly will conquer desktop applications.