There will always be rumors, speculation, fond wishes and hopes...
But we're about problem-solving here, so let's look at the actual problems:
Meta sucks for extended discussion
This is less of an issue now than it used to be. Extended discussion is sometimes necessary, but when your goal is to work through problems and come to an actual consensus, keeping it all together on one page (threaded or otherwise) ends up causing problems since few people will actually bother to read through it all! Fortunately, we have chat now - when it's actually necessary to have a lengthy discussion with someone, this tends to work far better than a traditional forum anyway. Meanwhile, the unsuitability of Meta to discussion helps keep threads on controversial topics under a manageable length.
The need for reputation to participate, coupled with the loss of reputation for posting stuff folks disagree with
This is increasingly a pain-point for folks who come to the site for support - new users tend to encounter the same issues over and over again, and often show up here with predictably negative reactions. At the same time, it actually works fairly well in keeping folks who refuse to read or learn from continually disrupting the site.
Most of the sites on SE have their own associated Meta sites where reputation is determined by their participation on the main site - this works pretty well for support issues, and we're considering going the same route for such activity on Stack Overflow.
Voting is non-intuitive for folks used to how it works on Stack Overflow
This is mostly a myth. The real story here is that the content being voted on is totally different from what's on SO. When it does align, there's quite a bit of similarity: folks asking how to implement an unsafe, user-unfriendly feature in their software are often met with the very same hostility and down-voting that awaits poor feature-requests here.
The other part to this - one poorly-considered post destroying your ability to participate on the site - is really a problem with the reputation system (above).
As always, if you have specific suggestions for improvement, or ideas on how interaction with the site could be made more effective, post them here as feature-requests, and we'll discuss them.