Tell me: if they did this with utility skills instead of traits, would you feel any differently about the system?
My interpretation of such a system adapted to utility skills would be to have specific tasks unlock specific skills with the alternative option of buying the skills for piles of silver/gold and some skill points, more than what they cost now. To be clear, this would apply to healing skills and elite skills. The convenience payoff found in the new trait system has no equal with this utility skill system, so there is no trade-off of price or time investment for convenience.
The problem with this system is that it's wholly worse. You don't even get anything out of changing the current utility skill system to this new one. Maybe the option of doing a specific thing to unlock the skill rather than pay for it seems like a plus, but doing that one thing will probably cost you more time and effort than what it would take to farm up the skill point(s) you needed under the old system.
Thinking of it another way, if the game had been like that from the start, it wouldn't be such a bad thing as long as it made sense how to get those skills. PvE players would want a means to get those skills from doing PvE, PvP players from PvP, and WvW players from WvW. The system in Guild Wars of skills learned in PvE being unlocked in PvP worked because the original design was for players to move from PvE to PvP, so you would expect people to unlock their stuff in PvE before moving on to use it in PvP. If they just played PvP though, they had a fallback of unlocking the skills through Balthazar faction earned by playing PvP. In Guild Wars 2, it's anyone's guess what ANet intends players to do, but what has happened is that three separate communities of people who only do one of the three game modes exist. Each skill would therefore need six methods of unlocks, two for each game mode, one being task-based and the other being a purchasable unlock with currency specific to the game mode, which would then open up the skill for that character in other game modes. Players that like to experience more than one game mode would be encouraged to unlock everything in a single game mode, because their progress in one mode would not amount to anything in another mode.
After all that, when you then consider changing it to the old system, where utility skills cost a few skill points and everything is automatically unlocked in PvP, everything about that old system feels better, particularly how skill points in themselves can be earned or worked towards for doing all kinds of things in either PvE or WvW, and PvP just gets the skills for free. The same attitude applies here - if the system now was the system at launch, and we suddenly went to the old system where you buy one book and it unlocks everything in PvE and WvW, and PvP just has their unlocks for free, everything about that feels better, apart from the new re-spec limitations and costs, and then that's what people would be complaining about and asking for the reasoning behind such a change.
"GW2 skills could be likened to the attribute points in GW1" - This is just wrong. Guild Wars 2 weapon skills are earned haphazardly and are like skills from the earliest of quests in any of the Guild Wars campaigns. Utility skills in Guild Wars 2 are like any skill you can buy at trainers in Guild Wars. Attribute points in Guild Wars are like trait points (not traits) in Guild Wars 2. There is no relation between Guild Wars 2 weapon skills and Guild Wars attribute points. To say attribute points in Guild Wars are unlocked in the same way as weapon skills in Guild Wars 2 is to say that attribute points are earned by farming mobs in Guild Wars and care nothing of their actual method of acquisition of leveling and point quests. Statements like these speak volumes of your familiarity with Guild Wars, to the point where I would even doubt you ever touched the game.
"elites in GW1 could be compared to the traits in GW2" - Barring the new method of unlocking that ANet introduced not even a week ago, please make this comparison of Guild Wars elites to Guild Wars 2 traits.