It wasn’t very long ago that I sat and talked to David Cohen of TechStars and Dave Malcolm, Managing Director of the Microsoft Accelerator in Seattle. Microsoft wanted to launch an accelerator that focused on companies using the Kinect platform, and a partnership that used TechStars’ knowledge about the accelerator world seemed to be just the right match.

Apparently it was the right match indeed, because now Microsoft is back with a second TechStars-powered cycle, but this time it’s aiming for the clouds — so to speak — as it launches an accelerator based solely on companies using Windows Azure. It’s a big deal not only because Azure is a potentially-huge product for Redmond, but also because it is making a notable dent in the cloud apps universe, especially for those developing on Windows.

It’s actually not much of a surprise to see Microsoft make the move. The company had previously donated $60,000 in Windows Azure credit to any startup within the Global Accelerator Network. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Microsoft has seen some impressive development come out of that money, and wanted to see if it could make lightning strike more often by having an accelerator focused on a single platform.

Applications are open right now for the first class in the Azure-focused accelerator. Each startup will get $20,000 investment, plus office space, technical training and of course mentorship in the TechStars style. Feeling frisky? Sign up. We want to see what you can build.

Microsoft Azure Accelerator