|"all Windows were basically DOS 'under the hood' from 3.0 through ME except NT."|
While I can agree that Windows 1 to 3x are DOS 'under the hood,' that's pretty much where it ends. Windows 9x/ME are true operating systems, not DOS shells. Yeah, you still get a version of DOS packaged with Windows 9x, but it's only used to start Windows (or to run DOS games, for those who preferred to start their 9x machines in MS-DOS mode, rather than to get any work done...lol).
But after Win9x loads and kicks the processor into protected mode, DOS does nothing. Unlike it's previous role of doing everything for Windows 3x, DOS in Win9x doesn't perform any memory/file system management or processor thread scheduling--all of that is done by Windows itself.
So, yes, Win9x does rely on DOS to get things rolling, but all operating systems have a boot loader. Even Windows 7 has one. It's just not called DOS.
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