Kevin, thank you for these suggestions. I will try to explain some of our design decisions below. One reason the settings is not to the right is because it is a section. Sections are highlighted while the items on the right--the advanced search, chat, notifications, and user menu are not highlighted.
We are trying to avoid adding any NEW things with the BETA at this moment. Right now we want to make SmarterMail 17 100% usable and bug free as possible. We have some VERY exciting news on how updates will be released in the near future, and we will be discussing community items very shortly after release.
I'm not declining this idea or any others currently, just trying to give you a heads-up on how where's currently approaching proposed ideas in our products.