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Summary form only given. The vast majority of studies to date have concentrated on the simplest of surface photoreactions, namely desorption, which is also the subject of the present work. We outline briefly and qualitatively a newly developed quantum mechanical theory that spans the weak-to-strong interaction range and circumvents several of the difficulties, noted in the literature, of the common approach to the photodesorption process. Closed-form expressions for the observables show explicitly the occurrence of multiple transitions in the nonperturbative domain and the power-law fluence dependence of the yield, rationalizing several of the observations found general to short-pulse studies.