In the early days of Windows PCs text inputting was a reasonably simple affair, with a keyboard used to enter text, in American English, which is then displayed on the monitor. With the arrival of new technologies, such as speech-to-text, and handwriting-to-text, conversion, and with the new opportunities of the globalized technology market requiring the more advanced support of Asian languages by existing technology, Microsoft beefed up its advanced text processing functionality with the Ctfmon.exe software component.
The process Ctfmon.exe is not spyware and is actually used by the Microsoft Office suite of applications to launch both the Microsoft Office XP Language bar and the Alternative User Input Text Processor. The Language bar is an important part of Microsoft's Text Services Framework [TSF] and operates as the user interface for the TSF. Although it comes preinstalled, with Windows XP and Vista, it is also available to be downloaded for the older versions of windows.
This process isn't essential for the operation of Windows, or the applications that run on it, and so it can be easily shut down if you absolutely want to (for example if you want to reduce system loading by reducing the numbers of running processes). However, the main problem you will experience is that you will lose some advanced text processing functionality associated with this process. Also you should note that the Ctfmon.exe process was programmed to run constantly, and not just when called by another application (ie it runs "all the time" and not just "on demand").
Specifically the Ctfmon.exe process handles a range of advanced text functions associated with the language bar, including speech recognition and controlling keyboard input commands for a range of east Asian languages including, Chinese (traditional and simplified) and Japanese. The ctfmon.exe process has also been specifically integrated with Windows XP Tablet PCs to handling the processing required to convert handwriting into text.
Author – Mark Debattista