At a stage in the development process, Contact List display and management were separated from the main executable (miranda32.exe), allowing further choice and customisation.
This probably happened as a response to multiple and diverse CList feature change requests to the central programmers of the project. The separation freed time and workload to further development of the program itself.
Following this move, new ideas emerged. There are now several good options for a "clist"-plugin:
This is the standard clist that comes with the installer, and is the clist used by the older releases (0.3.3) of Miranda.
This clist is the first alternative to clist_classic that was released.
Published by Nightwish as a modification of the original clist_nicer. Some fixes made to clist_classic were merged and some new features added.
Published by FYR, meant as a continuation of clist_meta_mw which is not developed anymore.
This plugin is an enhanced version of the above, as it provides support for the concept of MetaContacts.