doesn't support changing the volume by simply hovering the mouse and using the scrollwheel.
I just did that. You do have to click the icon first. Is that a bad thing? I hate it unfocused elements decide to unexpectedly handle inputs...
Slow to come up when you're suffering some over loud thing bursting on the crap speakers on someone else's computer
It comes up faster than I can click and then maneuver my mouse up to the slider.
icon too small and faint and hidden in the tray
It isn't faint (it's 100% opaque white) or any smaller than any other tray icon. Tray icons have been roughly the same size since the tray was introduced in Windows 95. Icons are auto-hidden in Vista and above if you're not using them, but you can choose to pin icons so they always show; you just click the tray arrow button, then click the very prominent "Customize" button.