The Internet is about to get its first taste of the .anything future.
After eight years of debate, numerous delays and countless quarrels, an effort to expand the Web's address system beyond the familiar .com and .net to more than 1,000 new endings is reaching its conclusion. By the end of January, companies can start selling website names on the first batch of approved new suffixes such as .clothing, .singles and .plumbing.
Proponents and critics of the program agree it's now at a sink-or-swim moment. Its success depends in large part on whether the domain-name industry — the companies managing many of the new endings — can persuade businesses and consumers to use them.