- many of the old talents were "must haves" for serious raiders, so they may as well be rolled up into the underlying spells;
- by focussing people into a single tree early, it made it easier for new players to make a decision;
- keeping players largely in one tree made it possible to give players signature abilities early on.
The problem is, I liked doing the "wrong" thing. I had great fun mixing damage and healing with my restomental shaman in BC. My build wasn't optimised for a single task, as it would be for raiding, but designed to fit in well, depending on who else was available. In the days before dual-spec and dungeon-finder, being able to fill multiple slots with a single spec was both useful and fun.
I wasn't alone; there were elementalist mages, shockadins, restokin ... flexible, but sub-optimal specs were everywhere. My panzerkin druid main-healed, tanked and DPSed most of the instances up to Nexus. I wouldn't have lasted thirty seconds as a raid tank, but that wasn't the objective.
It's that right to be "wrong" that I miss, to ignore the cookie-cutter builds and go make something of my own. I don't want all my decisions made for me, I want the freedom to experiment and try out fun things. They mostly won't work, but that's fine; experimenting is fun in its own right.