My experience was a little odd. I was catching hell from Impulse, as it wanted to update. After a reboot (something wanted to do something apparently) that went smooth, but then I kept getting an 'invalid key' error. Half an hour later, went to the registration page and somehow my key got cluster-<censored>ed. First half was right, second half I don't even know... changed it to what's in my case and it proceeded to download and install smoothly. Tried a quick solo game and everything seemed fine (after I reset my graphics preferences). I can tell some things look a little better, but I'm not entirely convinced the graphics are running smoother on my 3 and a half year old system. Still, extremely playable. Still fun.
The new UI stuff is great too. Haven't figgured out the auto-group ruleset that's supposed to be there, but takes time. So far, I say great job.
As it is required for this patch, I'm throwing my thoughts on Impulse in here... so feel free to skip the rest if you arn't interested in that.
As far as Impulse goes, I can't say I'm happy about it either. It's not a bad system, and certianly better than Ste@m (in my opinion... that thing crawls for me). Still, on principal I'm not pleased with having a whole extra program just to patch one thing. Expecially a program riddled with ads and demos and a bunch of social crap I'll never use. It's nice for some, but not so much for me. In a game with a launcher owned by basically the same company, I don't see why you couldn't input the relevant code of Impulse into the SINS launcher and have a nice, lightweight updater.
Also, while it's not a concern for most people, it's also one more thing I'd have to worry about playing nice with Wine if I decide I want to try and reboot back to Windows less.
If the stand-alone patchers are really all that bad... maybe a timed release might be a consideration. First on impulse, then the standalone redistributable later (kinda like MS does with the service packs and such). Hell, you can torrent those... who cares?
My 2 cents.