Today marks a pretty huge milestone in Microsoft relationship with startups, so we’re not going to be shy about this. Today, we launched the second in a series of Microsoft Accelerators with our partner TechStars that work with startups from around the world on important solutions and apps for the consumer and enterprise markets.

This is the beginning of the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure.

The response to the program has been astounding; we received nearly 600 applications from entrepreneurs from 69 countries around the world, spanning a host of industries including retail, travel, entertainment, banking, real estate and more.

This accelerator movement proves two things: one –Microsoft is serious about helping startups grow to scale, and not just by giving them free software, which is a hallmark of the Microsoft BizSpark program (where we give free software to startups that are less than five years old, and bringing in revenue of less than US$1 million each year).

Two, it means that there is community associated with  a startup’s engagement with Microsoft. Not only are they being introduced to a network that includes TechStars greats and the legacy of the companies that have worked with them in the past. But you are introduced to a startup community that includes 50,000 other entrepreneurs and developers just like you.

Here are the startups that are going to be in the new class:

  • AdvertoryBerlin, Germany. Advertory helps local businesses increase revenue and build customer loyalty.
  • Appetas Seattle, WA. Appetas' mission is to make restaurants look as beautiful online as they do on the plate!
  • BagsUp – Sydney, Australia. Find great places from people you trust.
  • EmbarkeSan Diego, CA. Embarke allows developers and companies the ability to integrate with any human communication channel (Facebook, Email, Text Message, Twitter) without having to learn the specifics, write code, or spend time on any of them.
  • FanzoSeattle, WA. Fanzo puts sports fans in the spotlight. Find other fans, show off your fanswagger and get rewarded for your passion. 
  • MetricsHubBellevue, WA. A service providing cloud monitoring with incident detection and prebuilt workflows for remedying common problems. 
  • MobilligyBellevue, WA. Mobilligy revolutionizes how people pay their bills by bringing convenient, secure, and instant bill payment support to mobile devices.
  • Realty MogulLos Angeles, CA. Realty Mogul is a crowdfunding platform for real estate where accredited investors pool capital and invest in properties that are acquired, managed and eventually resold by professional private real estate companies and their management teams.
  • SocedoBellevue, WA. A simple and effective web application for lead generation and relationship management on Twitter.
  • Staq – San Francisco, CA. Back-end as a service for APIs.

If you want more information on this class, or more information on Microsoft BizSpark, in general, you can follow these startups along in their accelerator journey by following our blog and following us on twitter:  @bizspark and @windowsazure and by tracking the Accelerator hashtag at #msaccel.

Over the next few months, we’ll be doing interviews with the startups and posting their Twitter handles.