My (aforementioned) nephew's computer appears to have had his broadband internet connection die during Steam installation. It could be co-incidence but... now I'm probably going to have to drive 600 miles to put it right. (yeah, I know, it's as good an excuse as any. I like my family, if only they didn't disapprove of me so much)
I agree with your comments and I'd hoped Steam would be an invisible patch machine but it does seem to be more intrusive than that. It's like we all just used to watch TV and there were ads, then there were just ads and we watched out for the TV. <shrug> you play you pay.