VMware Fusion Windows 8.1 DPI Scaling on Retina Mac

Windows 8.1 guest OS on Retina Macs doesn’t scale well with VMware Fusion’s default settings. Referring to VMware’s community forum, a registry modification is needed to scale both windows desktop and start screen correctly.

In short, change HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\LogicalDPIOverride to 2 in registry and DPI to 200% in Control Panel to fix the problem. Also, the virtual machine’s Settings (⌘-E) » Display » [ ] Automatically adjust user interface size in Windows should be unchecked to prevent VMware reverting your modification.

After Modification

Original VMware Fusion 6.0.2

Note the mis-aligned charms bar and smaller sizing.

Windows 8.1 is finally better handling high DPI screens, there is now an “Extra Large — 200%” option directly available. In previous versions you’ll have to manually select through “Custom sizing options” but it’s more prone to aliased graphics.

However, Windows 8.1 still has its own problem (at least inside VMware Fusion, not yet tested on a Windows PC). This 200% setting only applies to your “Desktop”, not the Windows 8 Metro UI. Which means the start screen, charms bar, any Windows 8 apps, even the bottom-left Windows logo when hovered all in lower DPI/smaller.

This lead to VMware Fusion 6 (6.0.2 tested) displaying akward mixture of different sized items on Retina Mac. Many customers criticized/questioned this problem on VMware forum, especially when Parallels 9 displays both desktop and Windoes 8 UI in 200% size correctly. Well, at least the forum community is more useful than VMware itself. A user suggest modifying Windows registry to fix this problem. The solution is described below.

  1. Disable VMware’s automatical size adjusting
    Otherwise VMware will smartly™ revert your DPI modification. Disable this function through:
    Settings (⌘-E) » Display » unckeck [ ] Automatically adjust user interface size in Windows

  2. Control Panel — Extra Large Text and Other Items
    Right click on Windows icon, select Control Panel » Adjust screen resolution » Make text and other items larger or smaller » under “Change the size of all items”, check [v] Let me choose one scaling level for all my displays then select ()Extra Large — 200%

  3. Registry — Higher DPI for Windows 8 UI
    Right click on Windows icon, select Run, type regedit and click “OK”, the Registry Editor window would show up. Navigate in the left pane to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop and double click LogicalDPIOverride on the right pane. In the popup window, replace the value with 2 and click “OK”.

  4. Reboot Windows and done.