tedster - 5:15 pm on Feb 28, 2012 (gmt 0)
Welcome to the forums, Trypnotik - good observations.
I was also thinking that this link change may have to do with allowing the surrounding text and even the title of the linking page affect their understanding of the topic for the target page. This seemed like a potential source of noise and error, as far as I'm concerned. With all the evolution in their on-page processing, they might well have decided that this part of the algo just wasn't helpful anymore - they already had the topic pretty well nailed from more direct signals.