Microsoft’s official Group Policy blog
These are some serious toys delivering a large punch of power from the suite formerly known as PolicyMaker. You don't need to have Windows Server 2008 or Vista SP1 to use the tools -- now called Group Policy preferences. They include more than 20 new Group Policy client-side extensions, expanding the range of configurable settings in a Group Policy object.
Just go to the Microsoft Download Center and grab them.
I am a bit confused: You are saying "You don't need to have Windows Server 2008 or Vista SP1 to use the tools" but on the download page it specifically says:
"This new functionality can only be configured under the new preferences node in the User or Computer configurations of the Group Policy Management Editor window on the following computers:
• Windows Server 2008-based computers
• Windows Vista SP1-based computers that have Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed"
So, can I use the group policy preferences in an environment where all the servers are WS2003 and all the clients XP Pro SP2?
Is there a migration path for current users of Desktop Standard PolicyMaker to Group Policy Preferences?
To answer my own question: No, you can not use group policy preferences if you only have XP Pro SP2 and WS2003 R2. You must have at least one WS2008 or Vista SP1.
@sreichling: I had the same question and found a post explaining how PolicyMaker and GPP interact: http://sdmsoftware.com/blog/2008/03/managing_group_policy_preferen.html
The Group Policy Preferences must be configured via a Windows Server 2008 or Vista SP1, but with the install of kb943729 they will apply to Windows XP workstations.
I am running a single domain forrest, entirely Windows Server 2003 R2 servers. I extended the schema, installed the RSAT tools and configured the CSE from a Windows Vista SP1 workstation, the CSE applied to my Windows XP SP3 workstations just fine.
now I await the ability to push or approve (WSUS) kb943729 for the rest of my Windows XP SP3 workstations and I'll be a happy camper! :)