It's perhaps no surprise to hear confirmation that the PC edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will use Steamworks, as Bethesda Softworks has used Valve's Steam-based tools for its last few releases. Now, how you feel about that announcement, that's up to you.
"We can confirm today that we're using Steamworks for Skyrim," the official Elder Scrolls Twitter account said today. And that's all we know for now. Presumably specifics will dribble out later, when Bethesda can find a quiet moment in all the Gamescom hustle and bustle.
What this means for you is that no matter where you buy Skryim, whether at retail or via digital distribution, you'll have to activate it on a Steam account. Once it's activated, you'll have no need for the CD, and Steam's offline mode should let you play happily without being connected to the Internet. Unless you're one of the unfortunate few who has trouble with offline mode, that is.
Fallout: New Vegas, the most comparable of Bethesda's Steamworks-powered games, uses Steamworks for auto-patching, achievements, and, of course, DRM. New Vegas also initially offered cloud storage for saved games, but that was disabled due to bugs. Here's hoping it returns, as where better for the cloud than somewhere named Skyrim?