I think it’s fair to say that ICANN is in a state of near meltdown at the moment. With less than a week to go before the new gTLD program’s first application window is opened, on Thursday January 12, 2012, the amount of work being done is mind-bending.

The ICANN Board held a special meeting on January 5 to determine the program’s state of readiness ahead of the launch. Out of that meeting comes a roadmap showing key dates, major steps already completed, and others still to complete.

Biggest shock to prospective applicants might be that a new version of the applicant guidebook – the program’s bible – is scheduled for release on January 11. The day before the program launches!

And while the application and fee processing systems are now listed as ready, the batch processing mechanism will not be completed until February 29. That’s more than a month into the Jan 12 to Apr 12 application window.

The entity tasked with running the trademark protection database known as the Trademark Clearinghouse won’t be selected until the end of February either. While the governmental early warning system designed to enable states to point out those applications they don’t like will have to wait until the end of March.

However, this is part of the normal launch program and should not give cause for concern. Apart from the late publication of a new version of the guidebook, the other steps can be covered concurrent to the launch window. And ICANN is being very open about these final preparations so that applicants are not taken by surprise.

Bottom line, there can now be little doubt. The new gTLD program will launch on January 12… and ICANN will be ready!