> non-living particles with some chemical characteristics similar to those of life
Crucially, though, those chemical characteristics include DNA, and its transcription to form the proteins that constitute the phenotype of the virus (bacteriophage, in fact). This is the 'engine' that mutation and evolution work on. Because the phage needs the bacterial cell mechanisms to achieve its reproduction, the phage isn't considered alive: it can't reproduce. But clearly it can evolve: mutations in its DNA lead to different phenotypes, with different abilities to infect certain bacterial cells. Whether that is 'speciation' depends on your definition of 'species'. That way madness lies! After all, the entire concept of 'species' was made up when species were considered to be immutable.