Upgrading VMs within VMware Workstation 8

One of the fun perks of being a VMware Certified Professional (VCP) is the free serial key for VMware Workstation. With vSphere 5, the VCP5 now comes along with a serial key for VMware Workstation 8, the latest in a series of great products for doing type 2 hypervisor virtualization, or in other words, running a virtual machine on your windows OS. I recently acquired my serial key for Workstation 8 and went through the process of upgrading all of my VMs to version 8, and thought I’d provide the walkthrough for others who are (or will be) going through the same process.

Upgrading the VM

The first step is to launch VMware Workstation 8 and find one of your favorite / saved VMs from the tabs or list. If you don’t see a VM in the lists, open one up and add it to inventory.

Next, select a VM using the tabs. In the upper left corner is a selection to upgrade the virtual machine.

This will launch the Change Hardware Compatibility Wizard. The first decision point is in the hardware compatibility format selection. For this demo, I changed my XP32bit VM from Workstation 6.5-7.x (previous) to Workstation 8.

The next decision you’ll need to make is how you want to perform the upgrade. The default selection is to clone the virtual machine and then upgrade the clone. This ensures that if anything goes wrong you still have a known working good VM. Since this VM is just a trivial Windows XP VM with nothing really on it, I’m going to choose to do the alter virtual machine option, which upgrades the VM in place.

At this point the VM will go through a few steps to reconfigure itself as a Workstation 8 VM and report back when it has been completed.

Upgrading Tools

The next step is to power on the VM. You should notice a notification stating that Tools are now out of date.

If you attempt to upgrade Tools by clicking on the tray icon and choosing the “Update Tools” button, you may be in for a nasty surprise!

Let’s push the button and see what happens.

I found this true for the few VMs I tried the Update Tools button on. Instead, I did an upgrade from the “VM” menu and chose “Install VMware Tools”.


The upgrade process for Workstation 8 has been made very painless and smooth, and the option to have it clone a new VM during the upgrade is a nice touch. In all cases the upgrade process was successful and only took a few seconds to complete. VMware Tools upgrades took the most time, but it is always recommended to have current versions of tools.