Over the weekend, some big news was published on the SimplePie development blog where it was announced that development for the RSS Parser would cease effective immediately. While the first version of SimplePie was built ontop of MagpieRSS, it quickly became the de-facto RSS/Atom parsing software for PHP. WordPress uses SimplePie to parse the RSS feed for the dashboard widgets such as Other WordPress News, WordPress News, etc.
Beginning in WordPress 2.8, MagpieRSS was beginning to be phased out in exchange for SimplePie due to the lack of development taking place around Magpie. Unfortunately, the same thing has happened to SimplePie leaving WordPress with a few options. First, hope that a fork of SimplePie is created which WordPress can then use. Second, continue the development of SimplePie to fit the needs of WordPress only or third, look for another actively developed RSS parser for PHP. It’s worth noting that in WordPress 2.9, SimplePie has been upgraded to version 1.3.
This doesn’t mean that dashboard feeds in WordPress will fail to be parsed as SimplePie is not a third party service. However, there are a ton of plugins in the repository that were built with the default RSS parser in WordPress both when it was Magpie and then SimplePie so this development affects those as well.
The WordPress development team is well aware of this announcement and it looks like it may be a topic of discussion for this weeks WordPress development meeting.