got to talk to a VE guy, who explained the situation last week. ends up that MS was reacting to protect a partners license. both times i've had MS legal pointed at one of my articles has been because of a partners license. this tells me that if you license something to MS, then you should feel good about it.
so it looks like the plugin is in the clear. did get to hear about some future VE plans, and i'm feeling good about it once again. will crank out some more code for them in the future, but i'm currently having alot of fun with Speech Server 2007.
NOTE i stated earlier that WinForms Earth uses the same protocol hack, but a member of the MSR MapCruncher team corrected me that it actually uses an embedded browser.