I have never had an issue with Steam, nor with Impulse (which was once Stardock's baby). I *do* strongly dislike when one retailer sells a game which actually needs Steam, but this has nothing to do with Steam itself, as I have no actual issues with Steam. In fact, in the past couple years, I have been going out of my way to replace older, physical game copies I have with Steam DL copies.
However, the thing I like most about steam is summed up in this two-sentence bit from Frogboy:
Unfortunately, it's a trade off developers are willing to make. Using Steamworks solves numerous issues for developers and publishers that would be costly or difficult to solve on their own.
Any time a developer can turn to an existing mechanism for distribution/dissemination of a product/updates/fun extras, that's time they don't spend working on their own systems for same, which is time and money they can spend on the content, rather than the logistics pipeline. Which generally means a higher quality (or, at least, cheaper) product for us, the end users.