What's weird is, I did manage to see the Friends checking in action! The icon in the dock correctly changed to indicate that there were new postings on my friends page to view. I just had to manually go view them in IE, because (again) the menu item to do this in the client didn't properly launch IE and show that page. Strangeness.
I do like the new client's layout and features, so really I'm just nitpicking on one small detail. Everything else seems to work as-is.