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Friday, 29 March 2013

Virtual machine hardware versions


  • A virtual machine does not power on.
  • Some virtual machine operations are greyed out and unavailable.
  • You experience unexpected behavior in a guest operating system.


This article guides you through the process of determining if your virtual machine's hardware version is the most up to date for the VMware product that you are using. The article also explains why a virtual machine created with one product may not power on from another product.

If you are experiencing a problem related to a virtual machine's hardware version, following this article resolves the problem.

For information specific to VMware Fusion, see Virtual machine hardware versions for Fusion (1022060).


VMware products and their virtual hardware version

This table lists VMware products and their virtual hardware version:

Virtual Hardware VersionProducts
10ESXi 5.5
Fusion 6.x
Workstation 10.x
Player 6.x
9ESXi 5.1
Fusion 5.x
Workstation 9.x
Player 5.x
8ESXi 5.0
Fusion 4.x
Workstation 8.x
Player 4.x
7ESXi/ESX 4.x
Fusion 3.x
Fusion 2.x
Workstation 7.x
Workstation 6.5.x
Player 3.x
Server 2.x
6Workstation 6.0.x
4ACE 2.x
ESX 3.x
Fusion 1.x
Player 2.x
3 and 4ACE 1.x
Lab Manager 2.x
Player 1.x
Server 1.x
Workstation 5.x
Workstation 4.x
3ESX 2.x
GSX Server 3.x

Consider this information about virtual hardware versions when dealing with related problems:
  • A VMware product cannot power on a virtual machine with a virtual hardware version that is higher than what it supports.

    Note: If a virtual machine is created on a VMware product that supports a given virtual hardware version and is then migrated to a VMware product that does not support this level of virtual hardware, it does not power on. Consult the chart above. Virtual machines created by VMware products and versions located higher up in the chart cannot be powered on by products lower on the chart.
  • A VMware product can power on a virtual machine with a virtual hardware version that is lower than what it supports, but functionality may be lost. Lost functionality results in menu items related to virtual machine operations being grayed out and unavailable.
  • A virtual machine's hardware version can be downgraded only by Workstation 6.x or later, Converter 3.x or later, and Fusion 2.x or later.
  • Any VMware product in the chart above, with the exception of VMware Player, is able to upgrade the version of a virtual machine's hardware to the highest version that it supports.

Upgrading the virtual hardware

To upgrade the virtual hardware:

Note: For Lab Manager virtual machines, they must be undeployed, have their virtual hardware version upgraded from their configuration, then redeployed.
  1. Power on the virtual machine.
  2. Install VMware Tools.
  3. Power off the virtual machine.
  4. Change the hardware setting:

    In Workstation 8, go to VM > Manage > Change Hardware Compatibility.

    In ESXi/ESX, Server, Lab Manager, or GSX, depending on the version in use, right-click the entry for the virtual machine, then select:
    • Upgrade or Change Version
    • Upgrade Virtual Machine
    • Upgrade Virtual Hardware

Additional Information

Reactivation of a Windows guest operating system is not needed after upgrading the virtual hardware version. Update the VMware Tools version on the virtual machine for better performance, if prompted.

For information on virtual hardware versions and limitations, see Virtual machine memory limits and hardware versions (1014006).