I agree with all of what you said, know it.
I am also thinking on going back to MSN 7.5 and installing MP3 to have in control all the old features that were (temporaly) removed from MP4.
It is obvious that many features had to be removed because of the imminent release of Windows Messenger Live. The bad thing is that we don't see Messenger Plus updates very often so I guess we'll have to attach to this mutilated release, get used to it; or resignate and go backwards to the previous versions. After all, Live Messenger is not also a great release after all, IMO. MSN 7.5 is powerful enough to use it until a newer release of both MSN and MP.
It seems shortcuts for personal status and the emoticons panel (the later, I don't really use) are the 2 more desired features to come back.
Keep on the good work, Patchou. For the sake of the product and for the 100% satisfaction of all people!