After reading several threads, I am still not clear: Altho I uncheck the display preview panel button in layout, the panel re-appears every time I restart Mail. This is driving me crazy. Any way around this?
You might consider giving Windows Live Mail a try instead. It is better in my opinion.
It supports Pop3, IMAP, HTTP website (EX: Hotmail) email, and is a lot more stable. Plus, WLM will minimize to a tray bar icon, checks spelling as you type messages, and has a separate Inbox for each email account. WLM will automatically import Windows Mail messages, accounts, and settings into it. Contacts will have to be manually imported from within WLM. (Tools, Contacts, File, Import, Address book for current Windows User.) To see the Menu bar, press ALT+M and check "Show all menus".