Figure A: VMware Fusion 11.5 introduces several important new features.
Erik Eckel

Not every application release is a required upgrade, but some updates are more important than others. VMware Fusion 11.5, the desktop virtualization software that permits running Windows in macOS, offers several features that justify upgrading.

First, VMware Fusion 11.5 resolves issues running Windows virtual machines (VMs) on macOS Catalina (Figure A). Even before macOS Catalina was officially released, VMware Fusion 11 users began experiencing trouble running their Windows VMs. Mac users who chose to load the macOS Catalina beta reported kernel panics and other issues. I waited, but when I installed the public release of macOS Catalina in October, I discovered my VMware Fusion 11 install would no longer boot up. The solution was to download and install the VMware Fusion 11.5 upgrade, which proved a painless operation requiring only minutes to complete.

So, if you run VMware Fusion to power a Windows installation on your Mac, and you wish to install macOS Catalina, you’re going to require the VMware Fusion 11.5 upgrade. That fact, alone, justifies the update.

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Second, VMware Fusion 11.5 includes Dark Mode support. Dark Mode, which some might initially write off as nothing more than the equivalent of a favorite item being introduced in a new shade, is proving to be a productivity-enhancing innovation that is making a real difference for many Mac users. The darker, low-light friendly implementation is more consistent with other Mac Dark Mode-compatible applications, and having Dark Mode support extended to Windows sessions run on macOS is, thus, a real boon and second justification for upgrading to VMware Fusion 11.5.

Third, VMware Fusion 11.5 introduces Sidecar support. As a result, macOS users running Windows can choose to display the Fusion-powered Windows session using an iPad as the corresponding monitor. Whether working with a wired or wireless connection, users can leverage the iPad’s Bluetooth keyboard and even Apple Pencil within the corresponding Fusion session. Such functionality, especially for those Mac users who also own an iPad, provides additional validation for upgrading.

VMware Fusion 11.5 system requirements are reasonable. All 2011 and newer Macs are supported, with the exception of the 2012 Mac Pro Quad Core system that uses the Intel Xeon W3565 CPU. 2010 Mac Pro six-, eight-, and 12-core systems are also compatible.

VMware Fusion 11 users can upgrade to version 11.5 at no cost; these users can simply go to the download page and install the update. VMware Fusion 8 and newer users can upgrade for just $49.99, while new users must purchase a new license for $79.99.