Orange PC is a combination hardware/software solution that enables one to run Windows (or any other PC operating system, such as Linux distros like SuSE) on your Macintosh. It was sold by Orange Micro, Inc. ( The hardware portions are PCI or NuBus cards that contain their own PC processor and RAM chips.

Given the complexities of getting MacOS and Windows to play in the same sandbox, OrangePC works extremely well and was the fastest choice for older Macs (G3 and earlier), since programs like Virtual PC and SoftWindows run like molasses if you don't have at least 128 MB of RAM to play with. However, Virtual PC does a wonderful emulation job in G4s, despite the presumption that a hardware-based solution would be more stable than a software solution. Furthermore, Virtual PC costs a fraction as much as Orange PC, which is probably why the PC cards were discontinued in 2000.

However, for those of you who might encounter Orange PC cards taking up residence in an older Macintosh, here's a little information about working with them.

The main part you deal with is the Orange PC software, which creates a virtual Windows drive within the Mac hard drive and lets the Windows system and the Mac system interface with the Orange PC card. The virtual Windows drive is in the OrangePCi Folder and is called OrangePC Drive C. Don't mess with it. Nothing in it is readable on the Mac side; you can seriously damage the Windows system if you tamper with it. If you need more room on the Windows drive, use the OrangePC Drive Expander utility. You must defragment your Mac hard drive before you do this.

You can set up any folder on the Mac hard drive to be the E: drive on the Windows side.

To start Orange PC, find the Orange PC icon and double-click on it. The screen will switch to the Windows boot sequence and, once it's configured, you should be able to log on to any existing Windows network as usual. Roninspoon reports that "These things were a sonofabitch to get the network working reliably". When I had a Mac in a PC-only office, I don't recall our network guy having any especially intractable problems with the network issue, so your mileage may vary.

To switch back to the Mac side, either click on the "Switch to Mac" button on the bottom bar, or hold down the Apple (command) key and the "D" key. From the Mac side, switch back to Windows by clicking in the OrangePCi mini-window.

Sometimes Windows will freeze up or malfunction so that you need to reboot. First, try to reboot by clicking on the Start menu bar and selecting the Restart option. If that doesn't work, switch back to the Mac side using the Apple-D key command, go to the OrangePC menu (the easiest way to do this to to click on the title bar of the OrangePC mini-window) and go to File:Setup and click the "Cold Boot" button. This will reboot the Windows side.

Sometimes, if you try to reboot Windows from the Start menu bar, OrangePC will hang in the middle of the boot and you'll get a nasty-looking disk error message. If this happens, Apple-D back to the Mac side, and do a cold boot from the OrangePC menu. If this doesn't work, seek help from a Windows techie ASAP because this is a sign something's been seriously damaged on the Windows side.