In fact, the first versions of WebAssembly aims at 1-on-1 compatibility with the Asm.js specification.
WebAssembly not only brings the promise of faster load times (bytecode can be parsed faster than text), but possible optimizations not available at the moment in Asm.js.
It suffered the perils of marketing and got three names in less than two years. It was then standardized and got a name that sounded like a skin disease. After three successful releases, the fourth got caught up in development hell for almost 8 years.
Fingers got pointed around. Then, by the sheer success of a single feature (AJAX), the community got its act back together and development was resumed. Version 4 was scrapped and a minor revision, known by everyone as version 3.1, got renamed to version 5.
Version 6 spent many years in development (again) but this time the committee succeeded, but nonetheless decided to change the name again, this time to 2015. This revision was big and took a lot of time to get implemented.
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