I want this away altogether - not dragged as wee as it can be, but gone.
Go to Options (from the File Menu) and choose "Advanced" on the left. In the "Display" section there is a configuration option called "Open all documents using this view". Change that to "Normal - outline and slide".
Note: After choosing OK, you may need to close your powerpoint document and then reopen it for the changes to take effect.
Normal view, by definition, includes the notes pane. As you've seen you can minimize it but not remove it altogether. It's simply part of the view.
If you want just the slide (no thumbnails, outline or notes) you can still get at the old Slide view via a bit of VBA.
Press Alt+F11 to open the VBA editor Press Ctrl + G to open the immediate window if it's not already visible Paste this into the immediate window:
Activewindow.ViewType = ppViewSlide
Press return. Voila. Slide view.
Or, probably more useful, hold down Shift while you click the little Normal view icon in the status/task/whatever bar at the bottom of the screen. This should give you thumbnails or outline plus slide but no notes.