I am not a kde user, though I use some kde applications.
However, as far as I know from the news and tech stuff I read, *everything* on the kde 4.x desktop can be catalogued in two departments:
- things handled by kwin, also known as "windows"
- things handled by plasma, everything else
I don't think that what you call "real icons" are going to be back at all. However, plasma is improving. The technology behind the scene shouldn't really be a concern for the user. As long as it provides the functionality that you need. There's some kind of folder view plasma thingie that does the job right now (don't ask me about its name). You can have as many of these in your desktop as you wish.