I looked at the list of 1st level wizard spells from 2nd edition, first to see how many of them were present in 4th edition. The word in the parentheses, when in bold, gives the form the spell takes in 4th edition. If the word is not bolded, it is the form it would take, or at least what I think would best represent it, as well as a basic explanation of how it might function.
Affect Normal Fires (ritual)
Armor (utility power, daily power that gives the wizard an armor bonus to AC for the encounter)
Audible Glamer (at-will cantrip, renamed ghost sound)
Burning Hands (attack power)
Cantrip (at-will cantrip)
Change Self (utility power, renamed disguise self)
Charm Person (utility power, renamed fast friends)
Chill Touch (attack power, melee touch, deals necrotic damage and weakens)
Color Spray (attack power)
Comprehend Languages (ritual)
Dancing Lights (ritual, but I could also see a version as a utility power)
Detect Magic (part of Arcana skill)
Detect Undead (at-will cantrip, detects the presence of undead)
Enlarge (utility power, makes the target bigger, weapon damage increases)
Erase (ritual, same function as in 2nd edition)
Feather Fall (utility power)
Find Familiar (feat)
Friends (cantrip, renamed suggestion)
Gaze Reflection (utility power, gives a bonus to defenses vs gaze attacks)
Grease (attack power)
Hold Portal (ritual)
Hypnotism (attack power, the effect is much more limited)
Identify (automatic in 4E)
Jump (utility power)
Light (at-will cantrip)
Magic Missile (attack power)
Mending (ritual, renamed make whole)
Message (cantrip, same function as in 2nd edition)
Mount (ritual, renamed steed summons)
Nystul's Magical Aura (ritual, same function as in 2nd edition)
Phantasmal Force (utility power, renamed spectral image)
Protection from Evil (utility power, gives the target a bonus to defenses against evil elementals, immortals, and undead)
Read Magic (part of Arcana skill)
Shield (utility power)
Shocking Grasp (attack power, melee touch, lightning damage)
Sleep (attack power)
Spider Climb (utility power, warlock power)
Taunt (attack power, causes the target to move toward you and grant combat advantage)
Tenser's Floating Disc (ritual)
Unseen Servant (ritual)
Ventriloquism (at-will cantrip, renamed ghost sound)
Wall of Fog (utility power)
Wizard Mark (ritual, renamed arcane mark; you can also make one using the at-will cantrip prestidigitation, but it only lasts 1 hour)
So of the 45 spells, 34 of them exist in 4th edition (75%), and the remaining 11 have clear applications in 4th. The first complaint (that older spells are not represented in 4E), is clearly erroneous.
Next, I looked at how the uses of the more free-form (less combat oriented) spells have changed over the editions:
Affect Normal Fires: same uses throughout all editions. 4this actually the most useful, as it lasts for 8 hours, and doesn’t end if you extinguish fires.
Alarm: same uses throughout all editions. 3.5 and 4th let you set a mental alarm as another option. 4th allows creatures to avoid setting off the alarm by making a stealth check, but also allows the caster to know exactly where the alarm was triggered should it go off.
Audible Glamer/Ventriloquism: same uses throughout all editions. 4th reduces the volume you can create with the spell, but also combines the two into a single spell.
Cantrip: same uses throughout all editions.
Change Self: same uses throughout all editions. 4th adds the ability to mimic a specific individual.
Charm Person: same uses throughout all editions. 4th adds that the target answers any questions you ask truthfully, and clarifies that the target will not risk its life or property for you.
Comprehend Languages: same uses throughout all editions. 4th adds the ability to write and/or speak the language as well, if your arcana check is high enough.
Dancing Lights: same uses throughout all editions.
Feather Fall: same general use, but 4th is much more limited. Can only target one creature, and can’t target objects.
Friends: same uses in all editions.
Hold Portal: same uses in all editions
Hypnotism: 2nd lets you give any brief and reasonable-sounding request, 3.5 is the same, 4th limits it to a single target, you either force the target to move or make it attack one of its allies
Jump: same uses in all editions
Light: same uses in all editions.
Mending: same uses in all editions.
Mount: same uses in all editions.
Phantasmal Force: 4th has much reduced size of the illusion, but you can also include sound
Spider Climb: 4th is most limited, as it only lasts for 1 round. Otherwise, same uses in all editions.
Spook: 2nd and 3.5 make a single target run away. 4th lets you use arcana in place of intimidate, so more uses.
Tenser’s Floating Disk: same uses in all editions. 4th lasts longest
Unseen Servant: same uses in all editions. 4th and 3.5 last longer. 4th can carry the most.
Wall of Fog: same uses in all editions
Out of the 23 spells, 12 have the same uses in all editions. There are minor differences, but these are often things that make the spell more useful in 4th (unseen servant can carry more, floating disk lasts longer).
Of the remaining 11,
3 are much more limited in 4th (spider climb only lasts 1 round, hypnotism is limited to a single target, and you can only make it move or attack an ally, feather fall can only target a single creature and can't target objects)
4 involve some loss of versatility along with some gains: spectral force is a far smaller area in 4th, but you can also make sounds, ghost sound combines two spells into one, but doesn't let you create as loud of sounds, alarm can be avoided by a stealth check, but you also know exactly where it was triggered if it does go off.
4 are more versatile in 4th: Spook lets you do anything you could do with intimidate, rather than simply forcing a creature to run away, comprehend languages allows you to write and/or speak the language if you get a high enought result on the arcana check, change self allows you to mimic a specific individual, affect normal fires lasts much longer, and doesn't end if you extinguish a fire.So it turns out that the second part of the complaints (that spells in 4E are limited to simple, combat-oriented applications) is also erroneous.
Spells and Powers in 4E are just as varied and versatile as they were in older editions. The difference is that 4E streamlined the mechanics and used a uniform template so that it was quick and easy to figure out what a power did. Just as you don't need rules for roleplaying, you also don't need rules to tell you all the things you can do with a power. The mechanics for a power simply tell you the rules for attacking with the power, or using the power in a default way. They in no way are telling you that it is the only way to use the power, or that you can't try to think up creative uses for the power.