What every struggling dot-com needs - a bit of help from Bill...Online auction house QXL Ricardo today revealed booming sales and profits, a lower burn rate and a strategic deal with Microsoft. There is no price attached to the deal with Microsoft, which is eager to get ebusiness onto its .NET platform. QXL will use the Passport authentication system and the .NET framework. Microsoft will feature QXL services on its XP operating system. Annabel Dangerfield, QXL spokeswoman, said: "Moving to Passport will make our services quicker and faster. With XP we'll be able to move beyond PCs and WAP to more devices, such as PDAs - it will be a big leap forward." QXL has moved to a pure agency model; it no longer holds its own inventory. Its agency auction value increased 42 per cent to £29.7m for the fourth quarter. Membership was up 11 per cent over the previous quarter to 2.9 million. The company's Q4 burn rate was down to £9.7m from the trading loss of £12.1m for the previous quarter. A £30m financing facility has been approved by shareholders.