VMware Fusion, a proven reliable Mac virtual machine option, boasts a new version optimized for Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan. A $79.99 (USD) application, previous users owning a version 6 or 7 license can upgrade for just $49.99. Here’s how the process works.

Previously, I ran version 7.1.2 on my MacBook Air. I found the upgrade to be a straightforward process and was again pleasantly surprised that no significant changes were required to my pre-existing Windows 8.1 Professional virtual machine, which I intend to upgrade to Windows 10.

To upgrade VMware Fusion 6 or 7 to version 8, open Fusion on your Mac. The VMware Fusion 8 Software Update window should appear. If it doesn’t, you can also trigger the window by prompting Fusion to check for updates. If the update option just doesn’t work for you, visit the VMware Fusion 8 webpage and click the Upgrade button.

If you’re updating using Fusion’s software update window, click the Learn More button. Next, click Buy Online. Select the Upgrade from Fusion 6.x, 7.x, 8.x option to change the pricing to $49.99.

Note the system requirements for Fusion 8 in order to ensure your Mac is up to the challenge:

  • VMware states a 64-bit capable Intel Mac with a Core 2 Duo, Xeon, i3, i5 or i7 chip is required running Mac OS X 10.9 or later.
  • VMware calls for 2 GB RAM and recommends 4 GB. I recommend you have a Mac with at least 8 GB, of which you dedicate at least 4 GB to the virtual machine when it’s running.
  • Fusion’s system requirements list 750 MB free disk space and at least 5 GB be present for each virtual machine. I recommend reserving significantly more disk space for the virtual machine. I run a single instance of Windows with one small proprietary application and Microsoft Office. Following numerous Microsoft updates, my VM has grown to consume almost 30 GB of disk space, so plan accordingly.

Notably, Fusion 8 is optimized for Apple’s Retina display and faster performance. Designed for El Capitan, the new platform is also designed to run Windows 10. The regular Fusion 8 platform, as opposed to the more expensive Fusion 8 Pro that adds enterprise administration features, provides support for virtual machines with up to 16 virtual cores, 8 TB disks and 64 GB RAM, so it should meet most Mac users’ needs. The new platform is also tuned to provide better battery life and includes 18 months of email support, built-in video tutorials, and a 90-day trial of McAfee antivirus software for those who are interested.

When purchasing the Fusion 8 upgrade license, you’ll be prompted to provide a valid serial number or license key from an eligible platform. Once provided, add the item to the cart and complete the transaction. An order confirmation screen (and corresponding email confirmation) will provide a download link for accessing the upgraded application installation files and the new license key.

Once you download the 379 MB .dmg file and double-click it (VMware-Fusion- to begin installation, the installer will verify the file and, depending upon your application security settings, require you to confirm that you wish to open the VMware Fusion application downloaded from the internet. You’ll need to provide the Mac’s system administration password to continue. Then, you must agree to the licensing terms and supply the VMware Fusion 8 license key.

Again, supply the system administrator password. The current VMware Fusion application will open. Click the Play icon to launch your VM. Next, click the Upgrade button that appears. On my Mac, the VM loaded in less than 30 seconds. VMware Tools Setup will display a message that VMware needs to reboot the VM to complete the upgrade, at which point the upgrade will be complete.

To confirm VMware has properly upgraded to version 8, open VMware Fusion, click VMware Fusion from the menu bar, and select About. VMware Fusion 8.0.0 should display.

Do you plan to install VMware Fusion 8 on your Mac? If not, what virtual machine software do you prefer? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.