When it's a spore? I guess not. Not to me, anyway. It will be when it un-spores, though.
Suspended animation is clearly a great strategy for surviving drought, etc. But it's hardly something we'd expect to find a whole planet's ecology based on. I hardly think we're over-narrowing our search if we restrict it to life that's actually doing something.
I guess this is a point where if we can show a transition of chemicals that is agreed by both sides to be inanimate when in contact with another chemical would be ,at the least , arguably life then we could perhaps refine the studies until we found something that would be undeniably LIFE.
I think it would still be very difficult. Say you find short (30 base long) chains of RNA (for the sake of argument), in a pool on mars that are able to replicate themselves...would this be recognized as life? As pre-life? Potential life? Viruses are not defined as alive mostly because they require a host to replicate. I find that a bit of an artificial distinction like saying humans are not alive because we need to eat and do not generate ATP without input from nutrition...the fact is, after a system has evolved for billions of years, I think it would be very difficult to reconstruct anything even resembling the initial replicator molecules that began life. One could perhaps one day find conditions where such replicators arise from a mixture of elements and conditions that could not self replicate i.e. potential abiogenesis....however, this would not necessarily tell us how abiogenesis occurred prior to our most remote common ancestor...it would only demonstrate the feasability of abiogenesis (no small achievement regardless)....of course then creationists would say...evolution is false because that self replicator did not become a dog in a week
I would agree that the ultimate goal of scientists studying abiogenesis is to demonstrate conditions and elements that could lead to a system that self replicates using combinations of elements and conditions found in nature. Then that ends the discussion of whether or not and how it can happen which would be a nice Nobel Prize winning result. However, determining the exact nature of the replicators that resulted in the beginning of life on Earth is probably impossible (was it RNA? DNA? what were the exact conditions?)....but that is my own personal feeling since billions of years of subsequent evolution would have probably erased any meaningful signals...much like the way phylogenetic reconstruction (at a molecular level) gets much much harder the farther back in time you go.