The HomeDrive attribute is not deprecated and will probably not ever be removed. The reason it's popular is because it was the first attribute that removed the requirement of using logon scripts to map a user's drive. Admins could now specify the home drive during user creation programmatically and not worry about maintaining a logon script. For small organizations with simple administration, this worked out well.
For larger organizations, business needs dictated that not all user accounts were equal and some needed to be separated from others. These organizations either continued to use or created large, complex, logon scripts usually checking the members group memberships to determine what drives to map where, to include their home drives.
These logon scripts execute during... wait for it... logon and if something went wrong, such as a network path was unreachable or access denied, they would hang. The default timeout for Group Policy processing is 10 minutes. This is where the whole 'login to your computer and go make yourself a cup of coffee while you wait' came from. So now you've got perceived performance problems and reliability problems because Group Policy errored out and didn't finish processing correctly. This of course generated support calls for Microsoft, a lot of calls spent troublshooting logon scripts for primarily mapped network drives.
And then magic, new Group Policy Preferences appeared with the Drive Map extension! The drive map extension also supports Item-Level Targeting for such thing as Group Membership. Now, all those support calls for drive mapping logon script errors could automatically be "resolved" by transitioning them to this extension. Since it's part of Group Policy, the extension is offically supported by Microsoft, while logon scripts were given a best effort.
Organizations now have a Microsoft Supported way to map network drives based upon group memberships, Microsoft reduced their support calls and time troubleshooting logon scripts, and admins could manage it all from Group Policy, wins all the way around. And, btw, you can use Drive Maps for mapping user's home drive, (use %logonuser%).