When Command.com first loads, it searches the root directory for the files "config.sys" and "autoexec.bat" which are concerned with loading some software drivers (config.sys) and setting the prompt, the path, and doing other initialization (autoexec.bat).
The reason you might want to bypass this process is to make repairs, change the boot files, run MSD, to do other snooping around. It may also be needed if the boot-up process hangs up while config.sys and autoexec.bat are beiing executed.
In plain DOS or in Windows 3.nn the boot files are easily bypassed. Do this by hitting both shift keys directly after you see the message..
Starting MS Dos..
You get two seconds to do this. This is the time delay purposely built into command.com.
Windows 95 boots directly into a kernel, but the F8 key can be used to interrupt the bootup process. So hit F8 after you see the prompt..
Starting Windows 95
you will get a choice of options, as follows..
2. Logged (\BOOTLOG.TXT)
3. Safe Mode
4. Safe mode with network support
5. Step-by-step confirmation
6. Command prompt only
7. Safe mode command prompt only
What you want is "7. Safe mode command prompt only" -- which will start a Windows 95 version of Command.com (kept in \ or \windows\command). This is not your original command.com version which came with a previous version of DOS or Windows 3.1. The original command.com was renamed to "command.dos" by Win 95.
You can verify this by typing "ver" and reading the information. The old DOS version was probably something like version 5 or 6 (or 6.22). This command processor will be identified as "Windows 95 [version 4.00.***]."
MSD.EXE will identify the DOS version (properly) as 7.
"Safe mode" means that the old boot files are bypassed, although a default path of "\WINDOWS;\WINDOWS\COMMAND" is used. To get back to Windows 95 you will need to reboot.
Windows 98 similarly uses F8 during startup to allow you to switch to DOS only (Use the Control key if F8 doesn't work). You will get a menu similar to Windows 95. This loads the version 8 command processor.