"What bothers me about Steam is the only purpose that would seem to require a move to it is revenue generation, whether through ads,"
The ads are hardly even there.. (Only on download screens and the monitor screen that I've seen. And wouldn't you know it, both of which can be minimized.) Hell, even Blues News has ads, so what's your beef?
Ugly rumour. There is no spyware in Steam.
"or a blatant monthly fee."
Entirly optional and UP TO YOU if you want to go the monthly fee route. Depending on how much content Valve and their partners put out, it could wind up being a BETTER deal even. (TF2, HL2 and CZ would wind up to be around 140 bucks.. a ten dollar fee a month for a year would be 120 a month. Of course that requires Valve to release stuff on time, but you get the idea..)
And the thing with Steam isn't that it's a Patch distributor, authenticator, server browser, game store/distributor, or an instant messanger. It's that it's ALL OF THESE THINGS rolled into one. You only need ONE program to use all of these.
And again, the monthly fee is OPTIONAL.
Seriously people.. There's plenty of OTHER things to complain about with Steam.. you don't need to bother making up conspiracy theories to slam Steam.. the program doesn't need any help.