Less than a year after the company launched Fusion 4, VMware has announced the launch of Fusion 5, the latest generation of the application that enables you to run Windows on your Mac.

Fusion 4 was notable for the two year gap between its launch and the launch of Fusion 3. VMware told us that the reason for the quick update this time round was the fact that this year will see two big launches: OS X Mountain Lion and Windows 8 (due to launch to the general public in October). 

This time around VMware are launching two versions of the software. Fusion Standard (£39.99 inc VAT) and Fusion Professional (£65.75 ex VAT), targetted at the enterprise market. 

There are 70 new features in Fusion, according to VMware. The principle new feature is compatibility with OS X Mountain Lion. That compatibility includes support for Notification Centre and Launch Pad, and support for AirPlay mirroring, meaning you can wirelessly stream Windows applications (as well as Mac apps) to a high-definition television via Apple TV.

The update also includes support for the USB 3.0 ports. We asked VMware why they weren't supporting Thunderbolt and they told us: "It doesn't make sense right now. There is not a strong user case". 

Fusion 5 also supports the high-definition Retina display on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. VMware joked that "Window's has never looked so good on a Mac". 

VMware also claims that new Fusion also runs faster, we were told tests had shown a 40% performance improvement. It also offers "faster 3D graphics" and 3D support for Linux desktops. 

Fusion 5 also offers “seamless” transitions between operating systems, according to VMware. It will support the Pro and Enterprise (as well as the standard) editions of the forthcoming Windows 8. Fusion 5 is able to run Lion as well as Mountain Lion. Virtualisation of Snow Leopard is still forbidden, due to Apple's end user licence agreement on copies of OS X prior to Lion, however, those people needing to run Snow Leopard apps can use Snow Leopard Server through Fusion. 

Other improvements include better battery management, UI enhancements, and video tutorials via the help menu, according to VMware. 

Fusion 5 Professional, which has all of the features of the regular version, plus options that will enable companies to deploy, manage, and support multiple Macs running Windows (including Windows XP and Windows 7) and “more than 200 other operating systems.”

The professional version also offers various security features, including the ability to create restricted VMs, limit access to devices, and disable drag and drop. VMware explained that this means "employees and contractors can use apps they need and IT admin can have control." Bundled with the professional version is VMware Player 5. 

Fusion 4 customers who bought that version after July 25 are eligible for a free upgrade to the newest version of the software. Existing users of the competing Parallels Desktop software can purchase the pro-level Fusion 5, however, for £32.85 (ex VAT).

Speaking of Parallels, the company has announced an update of its own: Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac will go on sale on September 4.

Additional reporting by Joel MathisMacworld.com