Considering what shitpile GFWL was... this is an improvement. Of course one can wonder why there must be some idiotic dependency on first place.
Here's the thing though with GFWL and Fallout 3. All that was required was that GFWL was installed. That's it. I never once ran it, I still don't have an account on it and don't plan on it. All FO3 cared wast that it was just installed. I chose not to use any of the GFWL features and thus never used it. Maybe it's different with other games, I don't know.
Impulse is similar in that it just needs to be installed to get patches and nothing else. Heck, you can even uninstall Impulse once your game is installed and never use it again if you don't want patches (or patches are available stand alone).
But Steam and Steamworks is totally different. The DRM portion I have no issue with, say a one time login registration. But after that to be forced to keep Steam on my computer and running when I play a game is what is unacceptable to me and many others. Along with the whole monopoly thing.
If Steam were simply a digital store and DRM I don't think there would be the outcry against it. It's that it forces itself on you, even for a single player only game, is what is unacceptable.