I had this working perfectly on an older system but for some reason I haven't been able to tweak the settings just right on the new system.
I have a Windows 7 Guest VM, running on a Windows 8.1 Host. The old system was running Windows 7 on the host (and an older version of VMWare Workstation, version 9, in case that helps.)
What i had working well before, was I was able to click inside the VM and then outside VM to the host, WITHOUT having to press CTRL-ALT to release my mouse from the VM.
My other issue is that now I often have a double-mouse pointer inside the VM, instead of one accurate mouse pointer.
I played around with the grab settings and enabled/disabled hide (under input settings in Preferences) but haven't been able to track this down,
Basically I want Workstation to realize when I am moving my mouse so far to the side that it's no longer in the guest VM and let me use the host, without pressing CTRL-ALT. And I need to fix this double mouse pointer.
Now there is once difference in the set up, and that is I enabled the option for "BEST FOR GAMING" (it's called something like this).. I did need to do this and it fixed an issue I had running a game inside the VM. I don't know if this is why I'm experiencing the other behaviour though.