Re: The cost...
While it's true that "their" desire for locked-down desktops and your desire for using whatever machine wherever are mutually exclusive, that doesn't really have anything to do with whether the desktops are virtual or not. We have pools of stripped-down linked-clone virtual desktops for task workers, but the devs get standalone dedicated virtual desktops with more CPU, memory, and storage, on their own subnet so they can have their own firewall rules.
When we started virtualizing dev desktops, we worked with the devs to provide them with machines capable of handling the work. They got the specs they asked for. They like that they don't have to keep a physical desktop (with its own keyboard, mouse, and displays) in their cubes and offices. They like that I can take a snapshot before they do anything potentially system-breaking, and one desktop disk failure can't destroy their carefully-arranged IDE. They also like that they can access their virtual desktop over the VPN the exact same way they access it when they're on the LAN.
It's also true that the back end to do this is NOT cheap, but if you're not getting the paintbrushes you need to work in a virtual environment, that's a policy problem not a virtualization problem.