I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything using "如何" to inquire about the state of a person, is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to me—I was taught this sentence quite early in my studies as a relaxed way of asking how someone was doing, although I think I learned it from a Taiwanese blog. He suggested using "最近怎样" instead, which he said is much less formal.
What is the social context of "如何"/"最近如何" in the mainland? Is it different than in Taiwan? Is it too formal/old to be used among friends? Is "最近怎样" more modern? When should I use which?