Mac users accustomed to Apple’s simple and straightforward updates may find themselves frustrated trying to upgrade an eligible Windows OS to Windows 10 using Fusion. Judging by my first-hand experience and internet forum comments, a video driver issue requires careful navigation. The supposedly simple process proved anything but easy for me, because my Windows 10 upgrade attempt was stymied by a Windows-reported VMware SVGA 3D video driver error. Other users, when leveraging the integrated Windows upgrade icon, received the following message: “The display manufacturer hasn’t made your display compatible with Windows 10. Check with the manufacturer for support.”

To perform a Windows 10 upgrade using VMware Fusion on a Mac, open Fusion and start the virtual machine. Note: You can only upgrade to Windows 10 for free if you’re using a qualified genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 OS. My machine was running Windows 8.1 Professional. I clicked on the Get Windows 10 icon that appeared within my Windows System Tray. After a few moments, Windows displayed the compatibility issue error message described above.

The blogs and forums I researched suggested that this error is incorrectly worded. Regardless, VMware states the error occurs because “in certain circumstances, the Microsoft validation tool used to assess a system’s readiness for Windows 10 misrepresents the capabilities of the VMware SVGA drivers, preventing the upgrade.” VMware’s blog notes “the simple workaround is rather than using the upgrade method within the VM, download the .ISO and mount it to Fusion to perform the upgrade.”

Of course, most Mac users don’t necessarily understand what that means or know how to do that. Here’s the process I used to eliminate the error and successfully upgrade my Windows 8.1 Professional Fusion virtual machine to Windows 10.

  1. First, start the Windows 8.1 virtual machine.
  2. From the Windows Control Panel, select Uninstall a Program, highlight VMware Tools, and click Uninstall.
  3. Confirm you intend to uninstall VMware Tools by clicking Yes.
  4. Click Yes to restart the system.
  5. Next, shut down (don’t suspend) the Windows virtual machine.
  6. Within Fusion, click Virtual Machine, and select Settings.
  7. Choose the General icon.
  8. Click the OS entry, and select the correct Windows version (Windows 10 x64, in my case).
  9. Confirm that you wish to change the virtual machine’s operating system to Windows 10 x64 by clicking the provided Change button.

Now, go to Microsoft and download the Windows 10 ISO. The Download Windows 10 Microsoft web page is likely to change but, at the time of this writing, it can be found here. I selected Windows 10, specified English, and selected the 64-bit version. The ISO file, Win10_English_x64.iso, ended up being 4.08 GB after downloading.

Next, you need to access the “media creation tool,” which is a fancy way of saying the ISO file you downloaded from Microsoft. Here’s how:

  1. In Fusion, click Virtual Machine, select Settings, then click CD/DVD (SATA).
  2. Change the CD/DVD default selection from Autodetect to Choose a disc or disc image.
  3. Specify the location on the Mac of the ISO file downloaded from Microsoft.
  4. Click Open.
  5. Start the Windows virtual machine in Fusion.
  6. Open the CD/DVD, such as by clicking the This PC icon.
  7. Double-click Setup.exe.
  8. Click Yes to enable making changes if User Account Control (UAC) is enabled within Windows.

When the Windows 10 installer appears, simply go through the prompts. The first option that appears regards updates. The default settings is Download and install updates (recommended). Click Next, accept the License Terms, and Windows will check for and download updates. When Windows 10 presents a window stating that the new OS is ready, click the Install button to proceed. Windows will then upgrade files, copy files, and install features, drivers, and configure settings. The upgrade process took approximately 22 minutes on my late 2014 MacBook Air.

From Windows 10 Welcome Back login screen, you can click Use Express Settings or the less apparent Customize Settings link, which lets you disable sending typing and inking data to Microsoft, having apps use your advertising ID, sharing location data with trusted partners, and transferring contact and calendar data to Microsoft. Browser and protection options can also be specified from the customization screen, including using page prediction to accelerate browsing, enabling SmartScreen online services to help protect against malicious content, and automatically connecting to hotspots. The upgrade is complete when Windows 10 sets up new apps in a splash window—a process that took just two minutes on my MacBook Air.

Last, you need to install VMware Tools within Windows to finish the upgrade. Follow these steps to install VMware Tools within Windows 10:

  1. Start the Windows 10 virtual machine.
  2. Select Virtual Machine from the menu bar, and click Install VMware Tools.
  3. Use File Explorer to access the CD/DVD drive within Windows 10, and double-click the setup64 VMware Tools installation file.
  4. Click Yes if the UAC window requests confirmation to proceed.
  5. Click Yes when the VMware Tools Setup window appears.
  6. Choose a Typical, Complete, or Custom installation, and follow the prompts to finish.
  7. For the Typical installation, click the Install button to proceed.
  8. Click the Finish button to complete the VMware Tools installation.
  9. Click Yes to restart the virtual machine, and the process will be complete.

Have you upgraded VMware Fusion to Windows 10? If so, did you run into any problems? If not, what’s stopping you? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

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How to upgrade Fusion to Windows 10 and fix a SVGA error