One other question: why would it matter if I got a copy from TPB (other than the obvious danger of malware)?
Because the people that actually pay for PhotoShop are the ones who are much more likely to use the more powerful features instead of just being an amatuer ( no matter how good SOME of them are ) just fooling around with it. We can tell you the limitations of the software ( gimp actually can do a fair amount of what PS can, it's mostly the horrid UI that holds it back). Part of it is also plain old cussedness on the users part, we KNOW the shortcuts and where the tools / actions we need to do are in PS... when we look at gimp it looks like the UI threw up and we can't find what we want without a detailed search that breaks our concentration away from the project.
I beleive you are sincere, and I'm curious. Have you used GIMP 2.8 in Single Window mode? How about Blender?
Yes, I checked it out when 2.8 first came out ( the floating windows wasn't a deal breaker, only annoying ). It's the rest of the UI, it's very cluttered* and un-intuitive*.
One example from working on OS/X a few weeks ago when I checked it out again:
I select the 1px brush tool expecting a one pixel brush like I would get by default in PS. My "1px" brush was actually 3px in a horizontal bar by default ( and the brush shapes toolbox was out constantly cluttering up the UI ) and couldn't' for the life of me figure out how the hell to just get my brush to be 1px just by looking at the UI ( there was no 1px square in the shapes toolbox).
*In PS all tools are grouped by function( with the most commonly used on top with press and hold to bring up the lesser used tools) and the tool selection toolbox is user selectable either 1 or 2 tools wide, in gimp, at least by default it is a more scattered something like 5 tools wide and no grouping + other toolboxes embedded within the tools toolbox. This is in addition to some filters and adjustments being in odd places ( at least to a long time PS user ). One that I seem to remember all the time is the DeNoise filter not being grouped with other filters that deal with noise in gimp.
I don't use Blender, I use PhotoShop and Lightroom for photo editing, not the modeling / animating stuff Blender was meant for.
I actually LIKE Creative Cloud now, for $10 a month ( which is something like 5 minutes of work ) I get the most up to date PS and Lightroom instead of 300+ every few years. Obviously I would rather not pay anything ( hey $10 is a couple drinks a month ) but so far gimp just doesn't work out yet... and judging from the time it took to get single window mode, even if someone came up with a truly nice UI the devs would fight implementing it for years to come.