VMware Adds Windows 8.1, OS X Mavericks Support To Fusion 6 Virtual Desktops

VMware Wednesday released updated consumer and enterprise versions of Fusion 6, its desktop virtualization software that lets Mac users run Windows and Linux on OS X machines.

Fusion 6 and Fusion 6 Professional (the enterprise edition) support Windows 8.1, the long-awaited Windows 8 update that Microsoft released to manufacturing last month and will make available to consumers Oct. 18.

The new Fusion 6 releases also support high-end features of OS X 10.9 Mavericks, which Apple is expected to launch this fall, possibly as early as this month. These include the ability to run on multiple displays and improved dictation support for Windows apps, Nicolas Rochard, group product marketing manager at VMware, said in a Wednesday blog post.

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By virtue of the integration VMware has built into Fusion 6, Mac users will be able to run their Windows 8 Metro apps side-by-side with OS X apps as if they were part of the same OS.

"With VMware Fusion 6, you can access Windows Store applications in Launchpad or the Applications folder and put them in the Dock in Unity mode," Rochard said in the blog post.

VMware Fusion 6 taps into improvements Intel has baked into its latest Haswell processors, such as faster performance and longer battery life when running Windows apps. The software can run virtual machines with up to 16 virtual CPUs, 8-TB virtual disks and 64 GB of memory, Rochard said in the blog post.

Fusion 6 Professional has a number of features that give IT admins more control over users and data. For example, admins can set up corporate virtual machines to expire after a set period of time, which is useful for contractors and temporary employees. Or they can block users from setting up their own virtual machines or accessing certain apps.

Michael Oh, president and founder of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple reseller, said VMware Fusion has long been a useful piece of software for businesses that primarily use Macs but need to access a handful of Windows apps as well.

For example, while Quickbooks is available for both Windows and OS X, many accountants prefer the Windows version, and they can use Fusion to run it on their Macs, Oh said.

While there aren't many Mac users clamoring to use Windows 8 apps at the moment, Oh said it's still important for VMware to keep Fusion up to date with the latest OS releases.

"VMware Fusion allows customers to bridge the gap between what Macs and PCs can do," Oh told CRN. "That isn't much of a gap, but we wouldn't want to be in a situation where customers couldn't run Windows 8 apps because Fusion doesn't support it."

VMware Fusion 6 and VMware Fusion 6 Professional are now available for download and priced at $59.99 and $129.99, respectively. Customers that already have Fusion 4 or Fusion 5 can upgrade to Fusion 6 for $49.99 and Fusion 6 Professional for $69.99.