Intuit's QuickBooks SimpleStart 2008 is an accounting package designed for business owners who hold things down with spreadsheets and sticky notes but want an inexpensive way to try their hand at using accounting software.

(US users can get QuickBooks SimpleStart 2008 for free and, although Intuit tells us there are 'no plans' to roll out the promotion in the UK, we live in hope.)

To reassure intimidated neophytes, the QuickBooks SimpleStart 2008 interface takes a commonsense "money in, money out" flowchart approach, and it offers straightforward tutorials on basic tasks such as recording deposits.

The 14 standardised reports (such as income statements and balance sheets) that are included in the basic package should suffice for most users.

New for QuickBooks SimpleStart 2008 is the absence of any restriction on the number of customer and vendor contacts allowed.

QuickBooks SimpleStart 2008 understandably won't rival packages such as Peachtree's accounting apps or the more expensive versions of QuickBooks.

NEXT PAGE: the limitations