ICANN has recently launched a new website for the new gTLDs and on 19th Sept 2011 and published the latest, final (?) applicant guidebook.

The Applicant Guidebook is intended to be a guide for applicants and will be regularly updated as aspects of the process are deemed necessary and are implemented. In addition to the Applicant Guidebook, a summary of changes since the last version and a discussion version of a process for amending the Applicant Guidebook were posted. In certain areas work is still ongoing, such as: whether single character IDN can be delegated as TLDs, ensuring registry operation through a continued operations instrument, and providing support for needy applicants (e.g. support for applicants from developing countries).

The new applicant website contains useful information about the program, such as videos on various subjects, and applicant hub with the guidebooks, an explanation of the TAS (application) system and various resources like FAQ, as well as a status page with updates on applicants, stats and events.

The final deadline to register in the TAS system is March 29, 2012.

Yet, this still not the final version, there might not ever be one. ICANN reserves the right to further develop the applicant guidebook as a working progress. And some issues are still not solved such as naming review panelists or conditions for filing objections. ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom writes: ICANN will provide further refinements to the Guidebook as warranted.

Still, companies interested in a TLD should gather their teams and vendors soon to plan the application. It is a bigger project than most people think.