ksgant: While I applaud the work people have been putting into GIMP, it's just not an alternative to Photoshop. I have to rely on Photoshop as my main source of income, and since I work on it 9 to 10 hours a day, it's become an extension of my arm. No way could GIMP do half the things I need it to do.
I also don't see GIMP ever getting past PS. I mean, it's been around since 1996...GIMP has had 15 years now to surpass Photoshop in terms of usability and user base (which is important when working in a workflow environment and exchanging files between clients). It's always "one day this will be great" type of thing. Sorry, some of us have a lot of work to do and can't wait for that day. I DO want there to be a viable alternative to Photoshop because I don't like Adobe's practices and how they've steered PS, but GIMP isn't that alternative. It's been 15 years of "just wait until the next version!".
I understand what you're saying, but I too work with GIMP for many hours a day and have no problem with it, even with the current version. And they had 15 years, but 15 years with a lot less money and less hours and fewer people. In the end it doesn't matter which software you use, as long as it suites your needs and you're used to it. In the beginning I had trouble getting used to GIMP because in some ways it works so differently from PS, but now I enjoy working with it and hate it when I have to sit behind a pc (or mac!) and work with PS. ;)
PS is too expensive, I completely agree. The argument that if you're a professional a few hundred bucks don't mind is not a good argument. The same way you cold state that 300 bucks is not much a penalty if you drive too fast. If you're rich enough. And besides that, PS 7 is as complete as it could get for most uses.
But, dont't forget GIMP as an alternative. It misses a few things, but a lot will get better and fater with the upcoming version 2.8. I'm a professional photographer working only with Ubuntu Linux and open source software and haven't missed PS a bit the last five years.