I'm not sure that I fully understand your questions, so please forgive me if I don't hit the mark. By giving users more rights, do you mean that you want users to be able to install software, device drivers and so on? If so, then you don't need Active Directory to do that. You simply need to add each user's account to each computer's local Power Users group (you mentioned that you didn't want to give them full administrative rights). Assuming that you're using the same password for the local administrator account on each computer, you can even automate the process of upgrading users' accounts. You might want to check out a utility called Cusrmgr from the Windows 2000 Resource Kit.
This was first published in September 2003