Since Windows server 2008, Microsoft introduced policy preferences. A technology they acquired by the acquisition of DesktopStandard. After installing RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tool) on a Vista machine, you will see the preferences appear when opening the Group Policy Editor (GPEDIT.MSC). In order to make use of these policy preferences, your Vista machines need to have the KB943729 (Windows Vista Link/Windows XP link) installed. A windows Server 2008 domain Controller is not required. You can still use Windows Server 2003, as it is the client which needs to have the proper CSE (Client Side Extensions) to process the policies.
System RequirementsSupported Operating Systems: Windows Vista; Windows Vista Service Pack 1
System RequirementsSupported Operating Systems: Windows XP Service Pack 2; Windows XP Service Pack 3