1. Is Intel gonna release anything new in terms of Intel Atom before Christmas? Should I wait to get one? I remember hearing a while ago that they were planning on integrating a GPU onto the CPU die eventually that would help with battery life. Did this ever go through?
No, none of this is going to happen for several years.
2. I'm pretty much sure I'm gonna get an Intel Atom as the CPU. What are my GPU options? What is the best in terms of power consumption?
The Atom + 945GSE sucks, but it sucks less than VIA or the Celeron. You have to go down to a ARM based machine to get lots of battery life (my NEC Mobile Pro 900C uses 3-4W compared to 10-23W for my ASUS Eee PC 1000HA.) The NEC lasts longer on its two cell battery than the ASUS does with six cells (and you can get four cell batteries for the NEC.)
Intel's chipsets are all horrible for power. An AMD 740G/780G would be great for a netbook. The only real remote hope for change is that nVidia might be allowed to make a chipset for Atom netbooks.
3. I think I've pretty much decided on a netbook with a 10" screen. Is this a mistake?
No, more normal keyboards on the 10" units are nice.
4. I'll be running XP Professional on the netbook. How's the performance for everyday internet surfing? How's bootup time? Should I think about getting an SSD?
The notebook hard drives are much faster than the netbook SSDs. If want to splurge on a SSD that costs the same or more than the Netbook--than the SSD would be faster. Boot up is normal--suppossedly my ASUS has EFI to speed boot, but compared to the instant on of my NEC Mobile Pro it is extremely slow.
5. How's battery life? I know this can vary greatly, so if you have to you can add what configuration you're talking about.
About 4 to 6 hours on my 6 cell ASUS.
6. I've been looking into the ASUS EeePC and maybe MSI Wind. Are there any others that I should look into?
Probably the Samsung NC10 which has the best keyboard arrangement.
And of course, which ones are quiet?
Only the Dells are silent. I am not bothered by the fan noise of my ASUS 1000HA and I like having 160GB of space.