VMware Fusion 6 adds Mavericks, Windows 8.1 support, much more

VMware on Wednesday announced the release of Fusion 6 and Fusion 6 Professional, new versions of their virtualization software for OS X. The new releases are available for immediate purchase and download from VMware directly from $59.95.

Over 50 new features have been added to the new release, including support for OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1. What's more, you can install Mavericks as a virtual machine too - handy for developers and others who need to test features and functionality on Apple's new operating system without having to commit more hardware to the cause.

Fusion 6 has also been optimized with efficiencies for Haswell-based Macs like Apple's new MacBook Air models, to take advantage of their better battery life. Users can create more powerful virtual machines than before with up to 16 virtual CPUs, 8 TB virtual disks and up to 64 GB of memory, but when Fusion first installs a virtual machine, you'll find easier cues telling you how to optimally configure virtual CPUs and memory. There are also video tutorials showing you how to use the software.

VMware Fusion 6 also gets a new Professional release. The Professional version is aimed at IT departments and other enterprise environments. New features include enhanced restricted virtual machines with more customizable restrictions, expiring virtual machines that can be turned off at specific dates and times - great for contractors, for example, or software developers who want to deliver software as a time-limited "virtual appliance."

Single Virtual Machine Mode locks users up from creating new virtual machines or accessing specific features, and linked clones let you create multiple copies of a virtual machine without having to duplicate the entire contents of the original disk, thus saving hard disk space. And VMware Fusion 6 Professional allows you to use VMware Player 6 Plus to run restricted virtual machines.

VMware Fusion 6 costs $59.99; VMware Fusion 6 Professional costs $129.99. Upgrades are priced at $49.99 and $69.99 respectively, and if you've bought VMware between August 1st and the end of September, you can upgrade to the new release for free.

One other change worthy of note: with this release, VMware is no longer selling a box copy of Fusion. The only way to get it is to buy it directly through VMware's online store.