First of all update the firmware either to the latest official release from NEC, or with Liggy's & Dee's that you can find here: http://liggydee.cdfreaks.com/page/ . This will provide you with the best possible recording quality and media support that this drive can do.
No drivers are needed for the drive, but for optimal performance you might need to install the IDE drivers of your mainboards chipset (should be in the chipsets driver pack). You should make sure that DMA transfer mode is enabled (is enabled by default in Windows XP, but not in Windows 98)
The best recording program is the one you personally like more. Most people rate Nero as the best, but it cannot replace Alcohol 120% or Daemon tools (I have both Nero & Alcohol installed), because Nero will never allow you to burn something if there is a legal conflict with it. Alcohol 120% does what you tell it to do, if it can. Does not care about legal issues (thats why I love it :flower: )