I don't care if the online activation is atrocious or not, I refuse to support/buy/whatever anything with online activation.
The only exception is probably the Windows OS - I am afraid that I can't stay on Windows 2000 pro forever. But for every other software there still is an alternative available. 1-click DVD copy, Norton AntiVirus, Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe, Sonic DVD-Player, DVDXcopy, ... will never get my money. They can stick their online/product activation right up their a**.
And I can assure you, Half-Life2 was the last software I have bought from Valve. They can stick their steam whever they want.
(And if they ever release Half-Life3, it will be hell for me to resist the temptation, trust me!)
[Off topic personal rant on]
And please, do not use cracks or other means to bypass the online activation. I am the customer, I pay for a product, I can vote with my wallet.
Don't use a crack of these programs and think "hey, these bastards! I won't give you my money because of your online activation!". No, use software from a different vendor. Give those vendors your money, who respect their customers. They deserve it. Make them rich. Let the others starve.
[Off topic personal rant off]