The not building improvements thing is specific to only some AIs in TA, and has been reported a number of times but has not yet been chased down. They work well in DA, though, and if you change the AI of the AIs in question to a generic one, they will start building more improvements. I'll edit this post or add to the thread if/when I can locate the specifics, as I don't remember which AIs may be affected nor which AI value works the best.
As noted, they may not have had the range necessary. There's a hard cap on range at if memory serves 7 sectors, so if you're playing on the larger galaxy sizes they may not have had an option but to turn their ship around.
The AI doesn't use transports well; this is true. They like to send them in with 1-3 firepower escorts, which doesn't work too well, either. Their strategy works well enough when they're the Dread Lords, though-if you haven't yet played the campaign, I suggest you do so. Based on your listed experience it seems you're capable of handling it as well, since the campaign is not a walkthrough by any means. I agree improvement would be nice.
Their obsession with starbases has been addressed before, but very early along in the game's development (DL 1.1 or DL 1.2 I think), starbases were much more important, and as such they were revalued to the AI, which didn't prioritize them at all (as I understand it). You'll notice this the most if you try to buy a base off the AI-it's not going to happen for less than about 8M BC.
Defense isn't that useful in DA/TA, albeit marginally more so in TA than DA. Unless you're fielding sub-20 firepower ships, not putting defense on their ships isn't a mistake. See combat mechanics.
The minor races are soft coded not to be able to colonize or invade. They're doing the best they can with their one planet that they have. Would you care to make suggestions, or are you just complaining?
True-the AI prioritizes making starbases, but not upgrading them. But really, starbases are weak enough, even when maxed out, that adding modules to them, apart from mining/production modules, really wouldn't help them any.
The AI has access to the ship designer as well, and as low as Normal (back when I played that), they would get around to designing non-core ships. Which AIs specifically are you seeing only using core ships?
You say this is on Crippling or higher-Crippling is only a 125% multiplier to its economy. Are you including Maso in this as well? The not designing new ships problem is something I personally haven't seen, and I generally play Maso.
The AI doesn't specifically target ships. The automatic battle sequence targets the next ship based on how much of a threat it is perceived to be by the equation Attack / Defense + HP. This, of course, means that an unarmed ship will always be the last ship to be fired upon. Again, if you have a suggestion, we'd all be glad to hear it, but this has worked fairly well so far and a number of us are opposed to tactical combat.
No one knows really what the surrender formula is, and honestly it seems to change game by game. Did your enemy build the hall of empathy? That would double their chances of having them be surrendered to. Basically, it's all chance. Might be a worthwhile suggestion for GC3, but it seems too abuseable as is.
I have. I notice them all the time. However, it's possible this is TA-specific, as most of my games are still in DA. And, as Loup states, they don't make yellow techs a priority, which Alliances is one of.
Explanation has been provided-you were neutral and had the terraforming techs researched, or you built the orbital terraformer. If both of these were true, there's no additional effect, but it still explains it.
Haven't seen this one-if you can get it to happen on turn one it should be fairly obvious and you could zip up a savegame and send it into SD, but I'm not certain that them loading it there would reproduce the problem either.