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Pay-per-use software via the Web

KnowledgePoint, maker of employee review software, will next week kick off a pay-per-use Net-based version of its application.

Software maker KnowledgePoint, looking to broaden the market for its employee review software, will next week kick off a pay-per-use Net-based version of its application.

PerformanceReview.com runs on Microsoft's server-based software and provides a thin-client application that walks users through the process of creating a review.

PerformanceReview.com is based on the application released by KnowledgePoint in 1994 called Performance Now for Windows, a product intended to help managers and human resources workers write performance reviews.

With PerformanceReview.com, there is no software to download, thus no configuration or need to upgrade continually, according to the company. Users enter the application through a Web site maintained by KnowledgePoint. Then they set up an account, enter their payment using a secure credit card transaction, choose a review form, and begin the evaluation. Once done with the review, the user can choose to receive the finished document through FTP download or by email in plain or rich text format.

Analysts see the deployment and pricing model for the software as significant. "It's one of the best types of pricing models for software out there right now," said Jeff Tarter, an industry analyst and editor and publisher of the newsletter SoftLetter. "It is a real reasonable model. People will be paying for the use of the software rather than the software itself."

KnowledgePoint developers chose not to use Java for the product, claiming the programming language was just too slow for the type of Internet delivery they were looking for.

In addition, applications with built-in Java or even Active X would limit access to those few users who have the necessary plug-ins or latest browsers installed. "It also saved us a year's time in coming to market," KnowledgePoint's vice president of marketing Ian Alexander said.

However, the company hasn't ruled out building a version of the product tailored to network computers. In the thin client or NC model, applications reside on the server where users enter them using a browser.

The PerformanceReview.com site will go live on Monday. A single use is priced at $9.95 and unlimited-use subscriptions are available at $49.95 for three months or $89.95 for one full year, the company said.